“Brussels is the most congested city in the world” says a recent report from Forbes. Even though Forbes’ analysis only actually considers Europe and North America, thinking that the capital of the European Union doesn’t offer adequate solutions for the life of drivers is pretty disappointing. Cities that have to deal with congestion problems often tend to offer alternative solutions in terms of public transport such as better bike lanes, more frequent buses and metros or allowing access to congested areas only to eco-friendly vehicles. Although these strategies are common in Denmark, England and even Italy, they are certainly not implemented in Brussels. As a result of that, people have been more and more sharing their complaints on their social media.
STIB MIVB FAIL is a Twitter account that gathers all comments on what is wrong with Brussels’ public transports. I had an interview with their (anonymous) manager who told us something more about how this idea came to life.
When did you start this account?
STIB MIVB FAIL was born on 19 January 2012.
How did the idea come into your head to create a Twitter account to bash public transports in Brussels?
Brussels is a great city but once you go underground it gets messy, dirty and above all difficult to reach a place in time. The reputation of our public transport is really bad and every time the STIB tries to improve something it becomes a ‘Belgian Solution’. Look at the security gates for example, even a toddler can jump over them, it paves the way for criminals and other people who don’t belong in a metro or tram station. It creates a feeling of insecurity but also unfairness, because you are paying while others don’t. Frustration was the main driver behind the initiative, and hopefully, pressure pays off. The second reason to start this account was to push for an online presence of the public transport service, just like airlines or other institutional bodies.
How do you look for and moderate comments?
It’s easy; in the beginning we were just monitoring some basic hashtags like #mivb #stib or #Brussel #Bruxelles #Brussels. But nowadays people just mention the account and we retweet appropriate tweets or reply with a funny comment.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever read and tweeted?
I think the coolest tweets we’ve read and tweeted were about #STIBsongs http://checkthis.com/stibsongs. It created a lot of buzz in Brussels and surroundings that it was even picked up by several newspapers and online outlets. It was a great campaign and it gave people the opportunity to offer their opinion in a funny way.
Did STIB or any other public office ever actually contact you?
Yes, we were invited for a meeting and talked about many things and especially the need for a more modern customer service on Twitter and Facebook. We were on the same line but getting things done in Brussels is not easy, especially when you have 19 communes on your back.
What’s in the pipeline for the future?
Just being ourselves, bashing the system and providing an outlet by at least trying to be funny.