Walk 500m to avoid STIB’s security checks – that’s not security, that’s a joke

I’m in Brussels today (Thursday 24.3.2016), two days after the Brussels attacks at Zaventem and Maelbeek. STIB, the Brussels public transport network (operator of buses, trams and metro) is operating a limited service today for security reasons. A screenshot explaining the situation is here.

Brussels however has one peculiarity – the so-called Prémetro. These lines – notably numbers 3, 4 and 7, but also 25, 32, 51, 82 – run as trams above ground (mostly in the outer parts of the city), but in metro like tunnels Albert-Gare du Midi through St Gilles, Gare du Midi through to Gare du Nord via Bourse in the city, and Montgomery-Diamant in the east of the city.

STIB (I presume at the demand of Brussels police or city administration) has closed a bunch of the Prémetro stations for security reasons (only Albert, Gare du Midi, De Brouckère and Gare du Nord are open). The stations that are open have checks at the entrances – at Albert that I passed a few minutes ago there was 1 soldier, 1 policeman, and 4 STIB employees checking passengers entering the station.

However walk 500m further (see the map above) and you reach Jupiter, the first station on tram line 51 beyond the tunnel section – i.e. the point where the Prémetro becomes a regular tram. Checks there: none. Nothing. Not a STIB employee or person checking in sight. I checked that with my own eyes too, just as I did at Albert.

All you have to do to avoid the checks altogether is to walk 500m and board at an above-ground tram station.

Sorry, but this is a joke. As it is currently arranged, the checks to enter the tunnel stations still open are a complete waste of time because they can be circumvented absurdly easily.

Does this make me feel any safer? No. Not a bit. Because it is not actually designed to work it seems, but supposedly to reassure people. Am I reassured? No.

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