Belfast Telegraph

Check the signs: Stormont department can't specify operating times for Belfast's 50km bus lane

Although signs frequently damaged or stolen, admits official

By Jonathan Bell

The Department of Infrastructure has said it can't say what time specific bus lanes across the city operate - instead saying people should just pay attention to the signs on each route.

As the bus lane stranglehold on the city tightened, a request was made to the department on the location of each lane and their times of operations.

An official said that given that 50km of bus lanes traverse the city - and that they regularly change their operating hours particularly given the impending introduction of a new transit system - it could not specify individual lanes' operating times. Also the department did not want to confuse the public by putting out information which could become outdated.

It came just after officials trumpeted new bus lanes in and out of the city, which were publicised along with their times of operation. They say the lanes, as well as being vital for the Belfast Rapid Transit system, will increase public transport journeys which is a "key target of the Programme for Government".

While the location of each lane is available on the NI Direct website, the times are not listed. It is only when you actually come across a lane while out on the road that the times are available.

However, the department admitted signage was "frequently stolen or damaged". Meaning motorists would be best avoiding the lane altogether and potentially adding to congestion by not using a free lane outside its times of operation.

A spokeswoman said they couldn't disclose the times as they were "changeable" at different sites and even along each lane.

In the event of signs being missing - as is the case on one lane into the city on a major arterial route - the department said they would be checked and replaced as soon as possible.

"They are set in legislation at each location however the times can change along the route, mainly as you approach the city centre and the hours of operation change from peak hours only to 7AM - 7PM towards the city centre," said a spokeswoman.

"There are no times provided as the times can vary and the advice is to always look at the roadside signage to ensure you are aware of the correct hours of operation."

"Hope this explains the situation."

Edit: Since the original publication of this story, the department has returned to say it will see if it can provide the individual times for each of the city's bus lanes.

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