STIB and Brussels Region invest in shelters for homeless people and drug users
The Brussels government will provide 5.7 million euros to public transport operator STIB to develop an integrated approach to the management of homeless people and drug users in the capital's metro stations. This will involve cooperation with bodies including the homeless organisation Diogenes, Transit and Samusocial.
For years, Brussels has been struggling with an increasing number of homeless people and drug addicts, who are also visible in the metro stations. This creates a feeling of insecurity among passengers and STIB staff and the number of complaints has doubled in two years.
"The problem undermines the attractiveness of public transport"
"The problem undermines the attractiveness of public transport," said a STIB spokesperson. "Moreover, metro traffic in the tunnels and the presence of 900 volts in them pose a real risk to the public and the critical infrastructure in the underground stations. The metro network is not a place where social services can take care of homeless people or drug addicts appropriately and humanely."
Following the example of its equivalent in Paris, RATP, the STIB is taking a global approach with social and security measures. It plans to provide staff to patrol metro stations around the clock, who will direct people in need to places where they can get help or accommodation.
"This integration of social assistance, medical care and safety has proven to be the right approach"
"Passenger safety and comfort are crucial to the success of public transport," said Brussels Mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt of Flemish green party Groen.
In November 2022, the Brussels government and STIB launched the SubLINK pilot project, which proposes an integrated approach. "This integration of social assistance, medical care and safety has proven to be the right approach. We are now extending this system to ensure safety in the stations and to provide appropriate care and counselling to those affected," Van den Brandt said.
The number of security patrols in metro stations will also increase by a third. These station security patrols were introduced in 2017 after the terrorist attacks of 22 March 2016. The patrols will also be extended to the beginning and end of the night.
© BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR