New bus lanes open in east Belfast
NEW bus lanes began operating today in east Belfast along Albertbridge Road between the Newtownards Road and Castlereagh Street.
They will operate on weekdays during peak traffic hours – 7.30am to 9.30am and 3.30pm to 6.30pm – with motorists facing fines if they use them during these times.
Their introduction forms part of the Belfast Rapid Transit project which is due to be introduced next year.
It will involve "tram-like" articulated buses operating along several main roads by September 2018.
Several parts of the city have already had changes introduced as part of the project, which is designed to cut public transport journey times.
Some bus lanes had already been in place along parts of the Albertbridge Road, but they have now been replaced and extended to cover two-thirds of the carriageway.
The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said the aim was to "encourage more people to use public transport, ultimately helping to reduce congestion on this busy arterial route".
It said bus lanes further along the route have already led to passenger numbers for Translink's Metro 4 corridor increasing by about 4.5 per cent.
Bus lanes were first introduced in Belfast in 2012, with some motorists complaining over the years of traffic delays and fines.
DfI said the latest changes were being introduced during the summer when traffic levels are usually lower to give drivers time to adjust.