The Passing of a Law
May 16th 2011 is the day commuters in Brussels need to start paying their fare when using the subway; at least if they need to pass through the Gare du Midi. Although everyone should have been paying already, the electronic access gates were left opened and had a notice stating that they would become active today; no doubt trusting the good nature of people, even though they obviously could go right through the gate without paying for passage.
To say that the lines were long at the various ticket booths compared to yesterday would be an understatement, especially during rush hour at the beginning and at the end of the workday.
There were also growing lines at a few gates as people seemed at a loss as to what they needed to do for the gate to open. Some section of the station only had an handicapped gate available which meant that people had to push a button to open the first door, then insert their ticket for the second door to open.
The lines at the ticket counters and the confusion to go through the entrance/exit gates probably is a very good indication that the city made the right decision and will actually benefit strongly from a working access system for the users of it’s extensive public transportation system. The added funds collected from people who were already using public transportation will probably be much greater than the amount of money collected from fines seldomly collected from those who didn’t have a valid ticket.
There were a lot of security/prevention personnel at the station throughout the day to assist people and make the transition go smoothly and although the gates are only active at the Gare du Midi for the time being, it isn’t hard to understand that now that the city’s busiest station is officially charging for passage, other stations will likely follow suit in the future in order to cover most, if not all of the city’s vast public transportation system.