STIB set to accompany travelers to the exits

  • Trials are being carried out at Albert premetro station to evaluate the idea of validating tickets on the way out.
  • The goal is to equip the ten or so premetro stations in 2014, with the exception of Brussels South and Rogier.

In July 2010 the Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company (STIB) launched Sésame, the underground network’s locking system featuring the installation and activation of security barriers. The objective was twofold: improving security on the network and combating fraud. Today, aside from those being renovated (Arts-Loi, Gare Centrale etc.), all stations – 60 out of 69 – are now equipped with security gates. So what happens now? 

1. Check-out: validate to get out. The second stage of the project will in theory be implemented by January 2014 onward via the introduction of the “check-out”. This will require transportation users to validate their ticket as they leave the station. The aim of this move is to ensure that the entire network is covered. Some tram lines undertake part of their journey outside; these users are currently able to evade the check-in. 

2. Premetro targeted. At the moment the focus is on premetro stations and intermodal stations (where trams and metro trains both stop), due to the fact that the metro network uses the check-in system. The priority will therefore be the north-south axis, from Brussels-North to Albert, or 11 stations on the inner ring – from Montgomery to Diamant – and Simonis metro station, where tram 19 joins. In total around 15 stations will be affected. 

3. Unenforceable at Brussels South One major intermodal station, the extremely busy Brussels South, will not be subject to the check-out system, for reasons of infrastructure. The positioning and number of security barriers at the platform that exit do not lend themselves to effective passenger flow management. The eventual implementation of the system will, therefore, depend on any potential modification work carried out in the relevant areas. In addition Rogier station, on the North-Brussels South axis, will have to wait until its ongoing renovation is complete, after which an initial analysis of the new passenger flow will be made. 

4. What about the metro? The check-out option is not currently in the cards for the metro-only network. It may be considered at a later date, depending on the results obtained in the premetro stations. 

5. How does it work? Presently, the security gates open automatically at the exits to stations. Once the check-out system is in place, travelers will have to validate their ticket to activate them. People not in possession of a valid ticket will have to make their way to the extra-large gate, adapted for less mobile individuals and send a text message to the number displayed (3304), mentioning the gate number. Those who either do not have a cell phone on them or are out of credit will need to press the emergency contact button linked to the dispatch services. Agents will then be sent to issue a fine to the ticketless traveler. 

6. The cost? From €6 to €100. The above-mentioned text message will cost €6, a dissuasive amount in anybody’s book. However, people who are unable to pay via text message and call on the dispatch agents will risk a fine of €100. “The agents will analyze the situation, judging whether fraud has taken place or if the user has a good reason for his lack of valid ticket. The fine can be disputed as usual,” explains a member of the STIB staff. 

7. 20 people per minute. The trial, which will run for a month under real conditions, should allow for an evaluation of the distribution between the entrance and exit gates. Since last summer, the STIB has been managing the security gates remotely from their liaison center. This means that the gates can be opened from the center should the need arise. The number available can also be modified remotely. “If we see that there is suddenly a large number of people leaving or entering, we can modify the devices accordingly. The spread of gates will also vary according to timetables and network specifics,” says the STIB representative. The passenger flow at a gate is usually 20 people per minute. The number of gates varies from one station to another. 

8. Timeframe. The one-month trial period will begin on Monday, November 18 at Albert premetro station. Staff will be present for two weeks to oversee the trial. If after an evaluation the initiative is considered a success, the check-out system will be installed in the relevant stations at a rate of one station per week.


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