Postcard from... Brussels


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The Independent Online

Britain’s Office for National Statistics released a report earlier this year confirming that the length of your commute is directly linked to overall levels of well-being.

Which means the Belgians should be some of Europe’s most miserable people. While the average person in the EU takes 45 minutes to get to work, the Belgians have the record, spending nearly 53 minutes each day, the state broadcaster VRT reported this week.

This is mostly down to the country’s notoriously bad congestion. One survey last year estimated that motorists in Brussels spend an average of 85.4 hours a year in traffic jams, making it one of the most congested cities not just in Europe, but in the world.

Most people who work in Brussels choose to live outside the capital in either the French-speaking south or Flemish-speaking north. With high basic tax rates, one or even two company cars are a common alternative to salary hikes.

Despite efforts by the government to get more people on public transport, network upgrades have been slow and trains frequently run late, meaning commuters would generally prefer to sit for nearly an hour in a car than on a train platform.

The UK was at the other end of the Samsung survey with the EU’s shortest commute.