The storm over plans for the Comber Greenway being turned into a rapid bus route has been reignited at Assembly level.
Local MLA Dawn Purvis has slammed the plan to transform the seven-mile greenway corridor at the heart of east Belfast into a rapid transit route during a recent debate at Stormont.
Speaking out against the proposal the PUP leader said: “The Comber Greenway is an oasis in what is otherwise a largely urban setting. It is the type of outdoor resource that urban planners everywhere dream of creating, an easily accessible, safe, attractive space for exercise, leisure, pushing a pram, outdoor exploration and adventures.”
The CT revealed earlier in May how the Department of Regional Development (DRD) came under fire after proposing up to five miles of the greenway from the Holywood Arches to Dundonald be used for a £147m rapid bus network. Ironically the DRD scheme comes after the department spent over £250,000 on turning the seven-mile stretch from Belfast to Comber into a green haven for walkers and cyclists.
The plan has faced stiff opposition from local users and the Belfast Comber Greenway Campaign group has vowed to fight tooth and nail to save the greenway in its original state.
Continuing her protest at the proposal East Belfast MLA Ms Purvis questioned whether the rapid bus route would, in reality, bring any major tangible benefits to lessen congestion on east Belfast roads and local commuters.
Ms Purvis pointed to an Atkins/KPMG report, commissioned by the DRD, which found just over a fifth of riders of the new system would be made-up of drivers leaving their cars at home.
“The Atkins/KPMG report, commissioned by the DRD to examine options for a rapid transit system, indicated that only an average of 22percent of riders on the new bus system will actually make the switch from cars to public transport.
“The remaining 78percent will come from existing users of public transport who will simply move from one form of public transport to another.
“This cannot possibly be characterised as real progress in getting cars off the road,” she said.
“The Minister (Conor Murphy) has said that the new network will preserve some form of path for pedestrians and cyclists as well. But how could it? What could the quality of that experience possibly be? How pleasant, safe and healthy could it possibly be to walk or cycle along a path next to a massive vehicle travelling at 60mph?,” questioned the East Belfast MLA.