Schools and businesses in west Belfast are demanding urgent action over "nightmare" bus lanes which they say are destroying trade.
The enforcement of 12-hour bus lane restrictions has begun ahead of Monday's launch of Translink's Glider bus network linking the east and west of the city. But parents were left concerned yesterday during the first school run of the new academic year.
Principal of St Kevin's Primary School Fiona Keegan described the chaotic scenes on the Falls Road as parents realised they could not pull in due to bus lanes on each side of the road.
"It was mayhem and it resulted in absolute dismay among parents who are right to be concerned because lives are potentially at risk," she said.
"I was outside the school meeting with anxious parents in an effort to reassure them that I'm aware of this health and safety issue and I am doing all I can to find a solution."
Miss Keegan said she believes that relaxing the rules during the morning and afternoon rush is something the Department for Infrastructure must consider to ensure the safety of her 600 pupils.
"It gets really busy at two peak times, but it dissipates quite rapidly so I hope it is possible to suspend the rules during those times."
Teaching staff at the school have also been forced to leave much earlier for their morning commute to ensure they are in the classroom on time.
Kevin O'Neill, who has been helping local school children cross the road safely for over 17 years, also warned about serious consequences.
"Traffic is an absolute nightmare and these bus lanes are making my job twice as hard as it used to be," he said.
West Belfast MLA Gerry Carroll met with more than 100 local residents and traders on Wednesday night, who have branded the new Glider system "a complete disaster".
"The fundamental problem is that there was a complete lack of public consultation on how this will impact people's lives," he said.
The People Before Profit representative said the reduction of parking spaces and extension of double yellow lines in the area is also having a serious impact on residents, particularly disabled drivers and care workers who are being impaired from access to homes in the area.
The roll-out of the Glider system has already forced some traders to pull the shutters down. Little Mexican Deli owner Paddy Tracey (44) and his partner Lisa closed their Falls Road store to focus on a second unit which they opened last November in the Dairy Farm Shopping Centre on Stewartstown Road.
The Department for Infrastructure said: "The new BRT bus lanes operate between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Saturday.
"They are clearly marked by solid white lines on the road and blue bus lane signs.
"Anyone who drops off or collects pupils from school should be aware that they are not allowed to drive or stop in the new bus lanes during their hours of operation.
"However, there are gaps in the bus lanes to allow access to side streets.
"The department asks everyone, including pupils, to take extra care until they are familiar with the new arrangements.
"The department has engaged with the schools along the BRT routes and is working to encourage more sustainable transport to school, including walking and cycling."