Northern Ireland news

Scrap bus lanes in parts of Belfast, says Belfast Chamber of Commerce

Wrongly driving in a bus lane in Belfast city centre can land motorists with a fine. Picture by Hugh Russell
Staff Reporter

Many of Belfast’s bus lanes should be scrapped in order to overcome traffic congestion and develop a “world-class” transport system, it has been claimed.

The call has been made by the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce (BCTC), which has urged the assembly to rethink bus lanes, which are now trained on by cameras to identify and fine drivers who use them.

This “frightens” potential visitors to Belfast, BCTC president Gordon McElroy said while outlining the organisation’s view of the Department of Infrastructure’s ‘Belfast On The Move’ scheme.

This ‘masterplan’ for city centre traffic management has reduced the number of vehicles in the inner zone by around 11,000 daily, but according to Mr McElroy, the department should be more “radical”, in particular around the controversial bus lanes.

“There are things that create perceptions, such as the introduction of the 20 mph zone and the bus lane cameras and the press attention on the amount of revenue that is being generated from them. Those things frighten people from coming into the city,” he said.

“Our members and the people who deal with them are most concerned about the amount of confusion that is being created by the bus lanes in Belfast. They are concerned that the bus lanes are operating at different times. Corporation Street, for example, has a bus lane but only one bus service up and down it and there is never congestion on it. The layout on Oxford Street is another concern. These are all things that are detrimental to people moving around the city.”

However, some dedicated lanes for public transport should remain, Mr McElroy insisted, adding: “It does not mean that there should not be bus lanes or lanes set aside for specific types of traffic to improve transport flow. We really support the introduction of Belfast rapid transit, and the bus lanes that serve it should be there.”

Mr McElroy called on the Department of Infrastructure to  remove the non-Belfast Rapid Transport-related bus lanes as an experiment". The Belfast Rapid Transport network will link east Belfast, west Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre. Many lanes in the city are currently outside the scheme.

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