The possible reintroduction of new ‘bendy-buses’ could be part of the plans for a £150m rapid transit system for Belfast.
A 12-week public consultation has opened on the proposed new bus-based network which will link the east, west and Titanic Quarter with the city centre.
The new system, which is expected to carry 5.5 million passengers a year, with a high-speed bus arriving every five minutes during rush hour periods, is aimed at alleviating traffic congestion by up to 20%
However, in cities like London so-called bendy-buses, which were unpopular with drivers and passengers, have been phased out.
London Mayor Boris Johnson ditched most of the fleet of bendy-buses in favour of single and double-decker conventional buses after a series of accidents fuelled claims they were more dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists.
Roads Minister Danny Kennedy spoke at the launch of the consultation yesterday. He said: “Belfast, like all strong, vibrant cities, needs a modern and efficient transport system. Belfast Rapid Transit will help to transform that transport system providing quick and efficient access into and across the city and help to regenerate and open up new development opportunities along its routes.
“It will play a key role in supporting local economies, linking businesses with markets and linking communities and people with jobs.”
Mr Kennedy added that he would like to see more people using public transport instead of private vehicles and that he would advise the public to view the consultation: “I encourage everyone who has an interest in the city of Belfast to examine the proposals and have their say on how they can be developed.”
The new scheme has plans to relocate some on-street parking, modify certain junctions, and widen specific roads. It also includes plans for a connecting hub around the City Hall.
The public can view plans at the Andersonstown Leisure Centre, the Kennedy Centre, Ballyhackamore Library, Connswater Shopping Centre, Clarence Court and the East and West Belfast Partnership Board offices during the next three months.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Niall O’ Donnghaile, who was at the launch, said: “This represents a significant step toward the development of a modern, safe, accessible and integrated transport system to enhance the connectivity of Belfast.”
Meanwhile, last week it also emerged that controversial plans to include the Comber Greenway as the preferred route through east Belfast have been shelved following public opposition, news that was welcomed by East Belfast MP Naomi Long, who also urged the public to engage in the consultation.
- Citi route — from the River Lagan, the Belfast Rapid Transit will run on Queen’s Bridge, Queen’s Quay and Queen’s Road into Titanic Quarter; returning via Station Street, Bridge End and Queen’s Bridge to join the one-way city centre loop.
- Eway route — from a new park and ride site near Quarry Corner, Belfast Rapid Transit will run on-street along Upper Newtownards Road, through Dundonald village to Holywood Arches and via Albertbridge Road and East Bridge Street through to join the city centre loop.
- Wway route — from a new park and ride site at McKinstry Road roundabout and/or Dairy Farm, Belfast Rapid Transit will run along Stewartstown Road, Andersonstown Road, Falls Road and via Grosvenor Road to join the city centre loop.
- City Centre — a one-way on-street loop from Queen’s Bridge, along Oxford Street, May Street, Howard Street, Fisherwick Place, College Square East, Wellington Place, Chichester Street, Victoria Street, Custom House Square and Oxford Street to Queen’s Bridge.