The Bus, Part Two

A while ago I talked about public transport here in Belgium. Today I’m going to talk about the good things buses have here. (I’m not going to talk about how frequently do the railworkers strike, because it’s annoying, even tho I do not take the train often).

So first, lets talk about the tariffs, shall we? You can buy a single trip ticket on the bus for 1€ (approx $1.50). Or you can buy a single trip ticket via SMS with your cellphone for, if I remember correctly, about 1.5€ ($2.30). Yes, you read well, you can buy a ticket via SMS. You send a SMS to the number (that I do not remember because I’ve never used it), and then they send you a message back with a “ticket” that is valid for half an hour. Another option is buying a ten trip card. If you buy it in a shop, like a tabbacco shop or newspaper agents, it’ll cost you 8€ ($12.60). Or you can buy it in the bus, and it’ll cost you 10€ ($15).

And then you have the monthly card. This one is great. Mostly because it’s not valid for a “natural month”, that is, January, February… Nope! It’s valid for 30 days starting the day you buy it (or the following day if you ask them so). So you can buy it the 20th of the month, and still use it for 30 days, until the 19th of the following month. Lovely! And then the price: a normal month ticket costs 27€ ($42.5) for people between 25 & 55 years old, and it allows you to ride any bus from De Lijn, all over Belgium, as many times as you want, for the whole 30 days. And the best part? Living where I live, it’s half price! So I only pay 13.5€ for 30 days of buses!

This is my OmniPas, 30 days of bus rides!

The downthing of the buses it’s that they don’t ride very often. For instance the line I use the most, drives 3 times an hour (every 20 minutes) Monday to Friday, with the first bus at 5.45 am and the last at 10.10 pm (except during summer, when the last bus is at 9pm). Saturdays is also three buses an hour until 6pm, then once an hour, first bus at 7.50 am and last bus at 22.30 (that could get me home). And Sundays and Holidays are even better: one bus an hour, starting at 8 am and finishing before 9pm. However, if you have the schedule, you know when the bus will be at the main stops, and they are there at that time. Which is handy.

And then the drivers. Most drivers will know the routes the do like the back of their hands, or even better. You can politely ask them to please tell you when such-and-such stop comes, because you know you need to get off there, but don’t know the stop. They will greet you when you get on the bus with “Goodmorning / Goodafternoon / Goodevening” as approppriate with a smile. They will say “Thank you” after you show them your bus pass, or “Please” when the machine spits your ten-trip card out after validating it. And they will wave bye when you get off the bus. I have to admit that the “Goodmorning” really makes my day brighter.

And thus we conclude (hopefully) the talk about public transport in Belgium. Stay tuned for the next chapter of life here.

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