Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's Glider service involved in 88 collisions in first year


The Glider bus service
The Glider bus service
Claire Williamson

By Claire Williamson

Translink's Glider service has been involved in more than one crash a week since it launched last year.

A total of 88 collisions were recorded in the 12 months to September, with an estimated five-figure cost for repairs.

The service was launched with great fanfare in September 2018, but initially the response from commuters was mixed.

The Glider received a £90m investment from the Department for Infrastructure and is Translink's first direct cross-city service connecting east and west Belfast, linking into Titanic Quarter via the city centre.

More than £200,000 was spent promoting the service, which saw some of the city's landmarks turn purple to welcome it.

Translink said that in its first year the Glider carried over two million more people compared to the bus services it replaced.

However, concerns have been raised after it emerged it has been involved in 88 collisions in its first 12 months.

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In the same year Translink paid out £20,000 on repairs.

DUP MLA Christopher Stalford said the number of incidents needed to be investigated.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I think that most people would recognise that the Glider service has been a positive thing for the city.

Christopher Stalford
Christopher Stalford

"But the number of incidents involving the service would indicate a need for a detailed examination of why this appears to be happening on an almost weekly basis.

"And the need for action to be taken to ensure that these statistics are brought down as the service expands into the south and the north of the city, the lessons learned from the east and the west experience may be useful in how future Glider schemes are planned.

"But it's important that those lessons are learned to prevent accidents happening in the future."

Translink said the incidents refer to an event where a bus has collided with another vehicle, property or person and an injury, or no injury, has been sustained. Incidents are recorded irrespective of fault.

Translink said the figures equate to a tiny proportion of its services - 0.046 collisions per 1,000km and 0.014 collisions per 1,000 journeys.

Yesterday three people were taken to hospital following a crash between a Glider and car in Belfast.

The incident happened at around 11.30am close to the Holywood Arches as the bus made its way towards the city centre.

Police are investigating the incident, which saw the bus and a black Peugeot collide.

One regular Glider commuter said his wife was on the bus at the time with their young child.

The man, who asked not to be named, claimed six people were injured with some left lying on the floor. He said some had blood on their faces and one man said he was feeling dizzy.

Police said two men and a woman were taken to hospital with injuries not thought to be life-threatening.

The man said he felt there were safety concerns over the lack of seats on the Gliders.

They are designed to have more standing room than seats in order to create a tram-like on-off ability and to carry more passengers.

"I miss the bus," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "The Glider is standing room only. They market it like a tram but they should have just built a tram.

"The Glider is always packed. For me, to have so many people standing and the vehicle having to react to what other drivers are doing on busy roads, is a safety issue.

"While they may not have got enough people on the old bus, at least there was a seat for almost everybody on board."

Translink said the buses met the highest safety standards and that they were investigating the latest crash.

A spokeswoman added: "We can confirm there was an incident involving a Glider travelling in east Belfast at approximately 11.40am this morning.

"Emergency services were called to the scene and three passengers were taken to hospital.

"We have launched a full investigation."

She continued: "It is a common design of rapid transit systems that space is provided for standing passengers. This allows greater capacity, especially during peak periods.

"The Glider vehicles meet both British and European safety standards, and are in common use throughout Europe."

Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them on 101.

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