Belfast Telegraph

Improve public transport and roads will be less congested

By Andy Boal

Many people drive into Belfast because they have little or no choice. These include people whose destination has no public transport at the time it is needed or it is prohibitively expensive, and people whose disabilities rule out the final walk from the bus stop to the office.

Then there are people who are either carrying stuff for work or need to drive to places during the working day; people who either have to drive children to child care or are going somewhere straight after work; those in car pools; and of course professional drivers such as delivery van and lorry drivers, taxi and bus drivers.

That is a lot of people with an objective needing to be accommodated before considering those who could get a bus or train to their office but choose to drive instead.

Things are then made worse by drivers blocking junctions such as at Albertbridge Road/Short Strand so that other drivers cannot get across onto empty asphalt the other side of the junction.

The key to improving congestion in a city with little scope to widen roads is public transport for as many people as possible.

That includes ensuring that buses can reach their destinations quickly and on time as well as cutting fares to give a price advantage over driving.

Park and rides do work to pick up drivers who don't live on bus routes, and the infamous bus lanes take road space away from other vehicles but make the buses a lot more reliable.

On top of that, trains are coming full into Belfast every morning.

Unfortunately, with Translink facing subsidy cuts and having to raise fares and cut services to break even - required of all publicly-owned companies - more people are likely to be either priced back into their cars or simply not have public transport available when they need it.

That can only make congestion worse - congestion that costs us in time wasted, delayed deliveries and increased business costs and thus the prices we pay in the shops.

  • Andy Boal is a blogger who writes about transport and other matters

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