Brussels

STIB + CAMBIO + VILLO = ???

brussels-cardsThe Brussels region has been considerably improving its supply of public transport and right now it has valid options of car-sharing and bicycle-sharing.

The STIB (Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles) is the largest urban public transport company in Belgium and supplies the city with buses, night buses, trams and metros. In 2003 it launched the Cambio car-sharing with great success and right now there are Cambio car-sharing stations all over Belgium and in Brussels there is a big supply that allows many of us to happily live without a car. However no common card Cambio+Stib exist and you need one for every different service.

Then in 2009 the company JCDecaux won the license to develop a bike-sharing system in the Brussels region. In partnership with the region and Brussels mobilite this company that has already successfully implemented similar systems in cities such as Paris or Lyon is quickly expanding its presence in the European capital. The bicycles are not as cute as others but they are solid and do the work. This bike-sharing system seems to be expanding all over the world, however having been one of the first “Villo-people” in Brussels I can say that the deployment of the bike-sharing is still far from being finished and still lots of work has to be done by the company to make sure some stations are not left without bicycles during most of the time, but things are improving. The problem again is: you need another card for Villo.be!

I wonder how can it be that in these times of multifunctionality, when a mobile phone can serve as radio or a calendar or when a computer can be used as a TV, how can it be that it is not possible to produce a single card which would allow access to STIB, CAMBIO, VILLO and maybe even other transport services. Any modern ID card could easily integrate all these functions.

The problem is clearly not technical, the STIB has integrated cards for transport and museums,  but a matter of either lack of will or lack of demand from the consumers. It is undeniable that even though STIB, CAMBIO and VILLO are different companies it would clarify the concept of “sharing” if the region would ask all of them to produce an integrated card.

In the meantime I’m afraid I’ll have to keep on carrying the three different cards plus the card of the supermarket, of brico, miles and more, privilege customer of I don’t know what store and whatever else is needed to have access to all these wonderful services.

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