‘Nightmare’ traffic congestion in south Belfast has triggered calls to get the new Cairnshill park and ride scheme operational ‘as soon as possible.
It has been less than two months since Belfast ranked seventh in a poll of the most congested cities in Europe. Elaine Duncan who lives in the Four Winds area, often drives on the A24 to commute into Belfast. She said: “By the time you reach Ormeau Road, the traffic is an absolute nightmare. There are bus lanes, but people continue to park along the side of the road — it really slows up traffic.”
“I think if the new park and ride scheme at Cairnshill is priced right, it could be effective in helping to ease congestion, particularly along the Ormeau Road.”
South Belfast Alliance MLA, Anna Lo has called upon the Department of Regional Development (DRD) to make the new £11m park and ride complex operational at Cairnshill “as soon as possible”.
She said: “I would like to see this facility being used as soon after completion as possible and I would call on the department to do all they can to ensure this happens.
“This service will hopefully help get more people to take the bus into Belfast and ease congestion on our roads.”
The park and ride scheme is an important element of the department's commitment to promote more sustainable travel, by offering commuters on this corridor an attractive alternative to using the private car for their journey into the city centre. The Roads Service website posts that the project was due to be completed in May 2010.
A DRD spokesperson said: “Plans for the introduction of a new park and ride site at Cairnshill are well advanced.
“While the main construction work of the site is nearing completion, the procurement of the bus services, together with the introduction of further bus priority measures, need to be finalised before the site becomes operational.
“It is hoped that this work will be completed in the Autumn when a promotional campaign for the new site will be launched.”
The site which is situated on the A24, Saintfield Road at its junction with Purdysburn Road, will be able to hold 730 vehicles and will have a terminal building on the A24. Access will be provided at two locations on the Purdysburn Road and by a new signalised junction on the Saintfield Road.
The site will be served by a dedicated bus service operating to and from the city centre.
More intensive bus priority measures will be introduced on the Saintfield Road and Ormeau Road to improve the reliability and journey speeds, both for the new park and ride service as well as existing bus services.