More 12-hour Glider Belfast bus lanes to operate from next week
The new Belfast Rapid Transit bus lanes will go live in the city centre and Harbour Estate next week.
With the start of the Glider bus service less than a month away, the lanes on which it will operate - in Belfast Harbour Estate and on Sydenham Road, Queen's Quay, Queen's Bridge, Queen Elizabeth Bridge and Oxford Street - come into operation on Monday.
Lanes will be restricted from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday.
A two-week, one strike warning period will be in place until Monday, August 27, during which drivers parking or driving illegally in the bus lanes will be issued with a warning notice instead of a penalty charge notice for a first offence.
Drivers who contravene the bus lanes for a second time during this period will be fined.
The Department for Infrastructure said: "The bus lanes will provide increased priority and a faster, more efficient service for existing bus services in the short-term and, from September 3, for Glider services.
"Motorists will have the opportunity to get used to the new arrangements during the summer when traffic levels are traditionally lower.
"The department would ask road users in the area to take extra care until they are familiar with the new arrangements."
While Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts is encouraging commuters to make use of the new mode of transport once it comes into force, he has concerns about the new bus lanes.
He said: "This will be a difficult transition period over the coming weeks, but I hope that it will ultimately achieve its aim of reducing congestion.
"However, the department does need to consider if it's necessary to keep the bus lanes enforced for 12 hours when they should focus on peak times.
"With regard to the current policy, when a car goes into a bus lane and the driver gets a warning letter, that should be extended from two weeks to a year to give motorists more time to adjust."