Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Belfast traffic chaos: Bus lane empty while buses clog up the other lanes

Not even the bus drivers are using Belfast bus lanes
Not even the bus drivers are using Belfast bus lanes

It is not exactly a lesson in seamless traffic management - an empty bus lane in Belfast city centre while four buses hold up motorists in the next lanes.

But the image, submitted by belfasttelegraph.co.uk reader David Woods, is sure to add to the public outcry over traffic chaos caused by new city centre bus lanes

Retailers have claimed that fewer people are shopping in city centre as a result of the changes.

Joe Jordan, president of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, has pointed to a “noticeable downturn in footfall” in city centre shops since the system began.

"New bus lanes have brought chaos to the morning commute by creating bottlenecks in many parts of the city centre," he said.

The changes are part of the Department for Regional Development’s (DRD) Belfast On The Move plan — which aims to shift people away from cars by giving more space to buses and cyclists.

However, tailbacks have left many motorists late for work and some independent businesses with late deliveries or delayed customers.

Roads chiefs are also under pressure to move roadworks on a busy Belfast city centre road to night-time as thousands of motorists struggle with a second week of traffic jams.

The Department for Regional Development (DRD) has been asked to address the timing of work on the new bus lanes.

But the DRD has ruled out night-time work, pointing to an extra financial cost of such a move.

The city’s politicians and representatives from DRD held a crisis meeting at City Hall on Tuesday.

Lord Mayor Alderman Gavin Robinson chaired the meeting at which it was decided to form a new group representing key agencies such as DRD, Roads Service, PSNI, Translink, city centre traders and Belfast City Council.

It will provide fortnightly updates over the next eight weeks in a bid to tackle any problems and help identify solutions as the Belfast on the Move project is rolled out.

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