How to use the STIB ticket machine

After i posted my guide to Gare du Midi I received a comment that the STIB ticket machine had caused some difficulties and had been found to be not very intuitive. I must admit that I thought it was  pretty good design with simple controls and I personally think that they achieve their aim pretty well, but then I do work in IT and see much more complex interfaces all the time.  I definitely find these machines easier to buy tickets with than similar machines in London or Paris.  In part though this is a result of there being a far simpler ticket structure here in Brussels as much as it is good user interface design.

So I took the opportunity of buying myself a new 10 trip ticket to video how I did it, which you can see below. The quality isn’t the best but I think you get the idea of how to use the controls, and how straightforward it is once you know how.

The tickets themselves are all the same whether you buy a one journey ticket or a 10 journey Jump ticket or whatever.

STIB Tickets

STIB Tickets

In the picture above you can see on the left the front of the ticket.  This is the way you put it into the ticket reader when you are entering a metro station or getting on a bus or tram.  Facing you like this with the red arrow pointing down.

The middle one shows the the other side of the ticket where the machine prints the details of your journey. It counts down on a jump ticket like this one, when it displays a 0 at the bottom it’s finished and the machine will reject it.

The last picture is the fresh ticket I got in the video above.  In type of ticket is printed on the top so you don’t mix up your airport line ticket from the day to day one.  The airport line tickets are the only ones that are more expensive.  At the time of writing you get 10 airport line tickets for €25, and 10 normal ones for €13.

If you have any questions about this then please feel free to leave a comment or question.

10 thoughts on “How to use the STIB ticket machine

  1. Does the STIB machine accept US Visa credit cards? On my last trip to Paris 5 years ago, the ticket machine only accepted European cards with a chip. US cards have a magnetic strip.

    • Now that is a good question. To be honest I don’t know the answer 100%. The machines do accept VISA cards (as of 2011). My UK VISA card works, but it does have a chip. I know what you mean about foreign cards in France though, until fairly recently UK cards wouldn’t work in the automated machines in petrol stations either (but they do now).

      As you say I think the issue is the lack of a chip, as the card reader expects you to enter a pin in order to approve the transaction. I will try to find out a definitive answer for you, but in the meantime I have a couple of suggestions 🙂

      First the manned Kiosks are more likely to accept a card without needing a pin (but I suspect that the actual reader will be the same).

      Secondly if you need to buy a ticket outside the hours of the kiosks, get cash from an ATM and buy the ticket with cash instead. The big stations like Midi/Nord and Centrale all have ATM machines, usually close by the ticket machines.

        OK I have a more definitive answer. No you need a card with a chip and pin to use the machine. I think this will also apply to getting a ticket from a kiosk (they use the same card machines which are a Belgian system).

        Your best/safest plan will be to get cash if you need to use the automatic machine. They do give change. Your American VISA card will be accepted in ATM machines (with the VISA sign) as they use a different system.

        Hope that helps 🙂

  2. Hi,
    For the 24-hr Jump, do i have to validate the card again when i get off the tram or bus? Or just validate when getting onto the vehicle?


  3. Hi,
    Appreciate if you could help about the BE rail to Brugge and Ghent. When i try to buy the tix to Brugge & Ghent at BE rail website, which stop-station should I click? The web leads me to Zone Brugge or Zone Gent. The train will show or announce on the respective stops? Please advise.


    • Sorry for the delay ion getting back to you.

      It depends where you want to get off! 🙂

      Brugge is Bruges in English, Ghent is a different town on the same line which goes towards Bruges. You’ll go through Ghent to get to Bruges by train. Yes they usually make announcements on the newer trains, with a display too. If you get one of the older ones you might need to keep an eye out of the window at each station until you get to the one you want.

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