This positive evaluation is a reward for the efforts by the Brussels public transport company and its staff to offer customers a quality service, despite the particularly complicated context of 2016.
At the request of the Brussels-Capital Region, the market and opinion research company IPSOS, has polled 10,300 travellers, between 26 October and 1st December 2016, 7,300 of them via an online survey and 3,000 by phone. Over 3,400 comments have been collected. The satisfaction barometer is a crucial source of information for STIB, since it enables the company to better focus on customer expectations, to assess its strengths and improve its weaknesses.
The important events
2016 has been a peculiar year for STIB and for customers travelling by public transport in Brussels.
For the first time in years, passenger journeys not increased but have remained stable. The results for 2016 are totalling 369 million journeys, which nearly equals the 370 million journeys made in 2015. This stagnation is directly related to the events of 22 March 2016 and the subsequent metro disruption that day, as well as to the changing operating hours and closing of some stations during the following days. From 22 March to 24 April, the public transport users in Brussels have had to adapt to a regularly changing public transport network until Maelbeek station reopened on 24 April.
Following the events of 22 March, the presence of security staff in the stations has been increased. As such, the STIB agents, the police and the military have been one of the key levers to initially reassure travellers. Moreover, since the end of 2016, contracted security agents have complemented this reassuring presence in the metro stations.
Last year, STIB also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the metro by organising, among other things, Wunderground, an arts and music festival within the metro stations.
2016 has also been a year of great achievements. Although STIB did not take delivery of new vehicles in the past year, unlike the previous years (new trams in 2014 and new buses in 2015), it has managed to optimise its transport offer thanks to planning efforts. Frequencies have been strengthened during off-peak periods and during weekends, whereas peak hours have been extended for some ten bus and tram lines. The first departures have also been advanced for a dozen of lines.
STIB has also continued to improve real time passenger information in 2016 by installing new waiting time indicators at the overground stops. 1,043 devices are currently installed on the network, 375 of them are battery-powered screens (IVEC). 440 additional IVEC screens are scheduled to be installed in 2017. 85 screens displaying information on connecting lines will also be installed in the metro stations.
The refurbishment of some main stations, such as Arts-Loi, Schuman and Rogier, has been completed. The installation of 26 new elevators has made two out of three metro stations accessible to people with reduced mobility. In 2016, several metro stations have also welcomed the brands Starbucks, Petit Paul, Di and Leonidas.
As for transport tickets, in 2016 fares have not been raised and prices for school season tickets have been limited at 50€ for the first and second child and reduced to 0€ for the third and subsequent children. STIB has also implemented measures of administrative simplification. Travellers with a BIM/S status can now enjoy an automatic renewal service. In 2016, STIB has also replaced the paper tickets with magnetic strip, as well as its orange validators.
Moreover, STIB has been reaching an increasing number of people through social media. The number of followers on Twitter has increased from 17,000 followers in 2015 to 75,000 in 2016 and the number of Facebook fans has nearly doubled (from 35,000 in 2015 to 66,000 in 2016). STIB Customer Care teams monitoring social media on a daily basis have treated over 100,000 messages from travellers in 2016.
In 2016, STIB has kept Brussels moving
For 2016, customers have granted STIB an overall score of 7.1/10. After three years with a stable global average satisfaction rating of 6.6/10, this third year in a row increase is the best result so far.
In 2016, 75% of the respondents have given STIB a rating equal or superior to 7/10. This score is a slight increase compared to 2015 (+1%). According to one traveller out of 4, mobility with STIB has improved in the past year, whereas 42% believe mobility in Brussels has worsened.
The score for the tram and metro lines has remained stable with 7.1/10. For the first time, the rating granted by the users who only travel by bus, the mode which is suffering the most from traffic congestion in the Brussels-Capital Region, has reached 7/10.
The metro remains the most used transport mode: 3 out of 4 respondents have claimed to travel by metro (76%). 61% of the surveyed people have indicated they travel by tram and 53% by bus.
Barometer 2016: The main lessons
The 5 top priorities for travellers remain frequencies, comfort, punctuality, travel time and connections. For the first time, “frequencies” has become the top priority, switching positions with “comfort” that has become the number 2 priority.
The ratings for customer focus by STIB staff, security (in general, during daytime, in the evening), fares and escalator and elevator availability has improved, just as the global satisfaction has.
The results for frequencies, comfort, information (in general and announcements in the stations), driving style, cleanliness, evening offer, website and the Contact Centre lose a tenth of a point. The installation of numerous waiting time indicators at the overground stops, the new website, the new mobile application, as well as other new technologies, should contribute to improving the score for “information” in the coming years.
Comfort during wait times in the stations and at the overground stops:
As for comfort during wait times, respondents have noticed an improvement in the management of cleanliness, both at the overground stops (improving from 5.9 to 6.3/10) and in the metro stations (increasing from 6.3 to 6.6/10), despite the sealing of waste bins in the metro stations. The information at the overground stops also has improved considerably thanks to the timetables installed at the stops (score rising from 7.1 to 7.3/10) and network plans (rating increasing from 7.2 to 7.4/10). The 375 battery-powered waiting time indicators have also contributed to improving customer satisfaction related to wait times at overground stops, which has risen from 7.6 to 7.7/10.
New information channels:
Within the framework of the customer satisfaction survey, two new information technologies have obtained satisfying results for their first evaluation. The poled customers have granted a score of 7.2/10 for the information in the vehicules (screens, audio messages). The information on social media (Facebook, Twitter) have achieved a high score of 7.4/10.
The bond between STIB staff and customers has tightened in 2016, despite the difficult situation of this past year. The efforts of the driving personnel under these difficult circumstances (rating rising from 6.8 to 7.0/10) and the staff accompanying travellers in the metro stations and at the overground stops (score rising from 7 to 7.1/10) and in the BOOTIK and KIOSK (rating improving from 7.2 to 7.4/10) have been rewarded by these positive evaluations.
Elevators and escalators in the metro stations:
Thanks to investments by Bruxelles Mobilité in 2016, 18 additional elevators and 18 escalators have been installed in the (pre)metro stations. Their installation has had a positive impact on the evaluation of elevator availability (rating going from 6.3 to 6.6/10) and the escalator availability (going from 5.8 to 6/10). Nevertheless, efforts are still necessary in order to improve the network's accessibility to everybody.
Despite the events of 22 March, the customers' sense of security has not worsened in 2016. Through to the presence in the stations of the STIB agents, police and military, the sense of security has been maintained or even enhanced during daytime in the stations (rating rising from 6.9 to 7.2/10) and at the overground stops (score increasing from 7.1 to 7.3/10).
Despite the extremely difficult context of 2016, STIB has managed to improve its global satisfaction rate in 2016 and to consolidate the results for the majority of the main criteria.
The efforts by STIB and its staff have paid off. The global satisfaction of STIB customers has reached an overall result of 7.1/10, compared to 7/10 in 2015 and 6.8/10 in 2014. This means an increase for a third year in a row, after three years (2011-2013) with a stable rating of 6.6/10. 75% of the respondents gave STIB a mark equal or superior to 7/10. The metro and tram have obtained an identical score of 7.1/10 and, for the first time, the bus is also scoring above average (7/10).
Travellers’ top priorities have remained the same: frequencies, comfort, punctuality, travelling time and quality of the connections. For the first time, “frequencies” has become the number one priority for the respondents.
The evaluations showing the highest increase of the barometer 2016 are the ones related to cleanliness at the overground stops (6.3), cleanliness in the stations (6.6) and escalator availability (6.6). The waiting time indicators in the stations have achieved the best score of all criteria (8.2/10), followed by the waiting time indicators at overground stops (7.7), the driving style of metro drivers (7.7) and the STIB mobile application (7.6).
During 2016, STIB has significantly enhanced the access to information by installing 375 battery-powered waiting time indicators on the overground network, but also by improving information through its digital and mobile channels and via social media.
The customer satisfaction barometer provides STIB with valuable information on issues which should be improved as a priority. The main points of focus include the frequencies of the NOCTIS buses (4.8), the quality of the connections between 8 PM and midnight (5.4), the frequencies between 8 PM and midnight (5.6), the sense of security in the station during the evening (5.6) and the comfort during wait times at the overground stops (5.6).
The Investment plan for the period 2015-2025 foresees 5,2 billion euros to enable STIB to carry out the numerous projects aimed at continually improving its transport offer. The major projects and works which will be pursued, started or ended in 2017 are, among others:
- The metro: continuing the retrofit of the metro and extending the metro north of the city
- Master plan bus: ordering new vehicles, finalising the master plan bus
- The tram: pursuing the works for the new tram line 9 and starting the extension works for line 94
- Refurbishment of stations (De Brouckère, Bourse)
- Connection screens in the stations, waiting time indicators at the overground stops, new website, new mobile application, Wi-Fi in several stations, quick online purchase
- Installing 9 elevators and renewing 21 escalators