Pascal Smet: ‘commuters to Brussels have to carpool or pay!’
In an interview with Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure, Brussels Mobility Minister Pascal Smet (sp.a) gives his blunt thoughts on 200.000 every day commuters to Brussels. Although ‘not being against them’, Smet says: “They have to carpool or pay! Brussels can’t be no longer a utility city where everybody comes to shit (sic) with his car and leave”.
In the same breath Smet lashes out to Flanders, Wallonia, the MR party and mobility organization Touring. “They are anti-Brussels. With them, its all for commuters, nothing for the Brussels citizens. We are investing! The problem isn’t the roadworks causing traffic jams, but the 200.000 commuters coming to the capital every day, sitting alone in their cars”.
10% less cars is 40% less traffic jams
Smet has a solution: “It’s simple, commuters have to carpool. 10% less cars is 40% less traffic jam, and with 20% less cars there is no traffic jams anymore”. The minister also wants to find a way to make commuters pay if they’re traveling alone in their car to Brussels.
Pointing at Touring, which accused Smet of not coordinating road works in Brussels enough during the summer months, the minister defended himself saying road contractors had written him to complain about having to work to much during weekends, holidays and nights. “This was just to avoid delays”, Smet says.
Solution to be found in Flanders and Wallonia
Smet also attacks critics saying that there is no political cohesion between regional authorities about mobility. He wants to ‘detach Brussels from the problem’. “One needs the balls to say it: the solution to the mobility problem in Brussels is to be found in Flanders and Wallonia. I have nothing against commuters but we need a balance”, says Pascal Smet.
“Don’t listen to those who sing along with the Tourings of this world saying there are no alternatives as long as you don’t build a bicycle path or a tram line. They’re against Brussels too!”
100 kph speed limit on the Ring?
“I don’t understand for instance why Flanders isn’t issuing a speed limit of 100 kph on the Brussels’ Ring. This would be logic in terms of traffic flow and safety and quality of the air. We are trying to convince them.”
On the problem of the sink holes on the Chaussee de Louvain, where an important entrance road and railway tunnel is blocked, Smet reacts that sewerage and water supply is a matter for city authorities, not the Brussels Region.
“But a week ago stones were falling down in tunnel in Flanders and I didn’t find anything about it in the newspapers. If this happens in Brussels, the whole world has to know it. I’m fed up with this!”.
Letting Brussels rot
On the three-year delay for the north metro extension, minister Smet accuses the federal government’s Beliris (federal fund for financing big projects in Brussels) and its director Didier Reynders (MR). “Its unacceptable, we have asked the reason why. I don’t understand”, says Smet.
Same goes for Brussels’ pedestrian zone where the mobility minister thinks that the whole municipal college is responsible. “The biggest mistake is to have Didier Reynder and Beliris at the commanding post and not the Brussels Region or the city”.
“When we were in the federal government, I said that they shouldn’t do the test period. Why did they let the situation decay?”, asks Pascal Smet, “I’ve got the impression that we’re letting Brussels rot. Reynders needs to accelerate the pace”.