Belfast Rapid Transit 'glider' bus unveiled
THE NEW Belfast Rapid Transit Glider vehicle has been unveiled at the Busworld Europe exhibition in Belgium.
The new service comes into operation in September next year and Translink have said it will offer passengers a modern, efficient public transport service with shorter, more reliable journey times and high frequency services.
Glider services will operate every 7-8 minutes throughout the working day, linking east Belfast, west Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre.
The 18-metre articulated Glider vehicles will carry 105 passengers and feature real time passenger information, audio next stop and destination announcements, CCTV, free Wi-Fi, USB charging facilities and air conditioning.
Ciarán de Búrca, Department for Infrastructure Director of Transport Projects said: “Today we see a very significant step forward for the £90m flagship Belfast Rapid Transit project, with the launch of the Glider vehicle and brand.
“The new Glider vehicles, which have been specifically designed for Belfast, will start arriving in Belfast later this year. They will provide a new, modern, improved public transport experience for everyone who lives, works, socialises or visits the city.
Roads enthusiast Wesley Johnston said for the new vehicles to succeed "a good ongoing budget" will be needed.
"It is certain that the provision of these bus lanes will cause knock-on delays for general traffic now squeezed into one lane," he said.
"However, it’s also clear that with the city centre roads operating at capacity the only two options for moving more people is either widespread demolition and road widening or - as Belfast Rapid Transport aims to do - encouraging more people to leave the car at home and commute using forms of transport that take up less space per person.
"To succeed, the level of service has to be very good, so bus lanes are essential to ensure it offers a time advantage.
"But the success of BRT will hinge not just on the provision of bus lanes, but their enforcement.
"It is vital that there is a good ongoing budget set aside for ensuring that illegal parking and driving in the Rapid Transit lanes is rigorously enforced.
"Enforcement is something that is done very poorly at present."
Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway said: “Glider is the iconic new face of public transport in Belfast, helping to energise the city. Our customers can expect a modern, high-capacity and high-frequency rapid transit service which integrates with our existing bus and rail network.
“Glider is a transformational development for public transport in Belfast. We’d like to thank the Department for Infrastructure for essential funding to deliver this major project and look forward to the arrival of the first vehicles in Northern Ireland later this year.”
The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, who helped to formally unveil the Glider vehicle, said: “As part of Belfast City Council’s Belfast Agenda we have committed to work in partnership to progress the transport infrastructure and create a modern and efficient transport system for Belfast.
“Belfast - like all strong and vibrant cities - needs a transport system that is befitting a global city, and I believe the new Glider service will help to deliver that for Belfast and its residents, workers and visitors.
"The Glider service will encourage more people to opt for public transport which in turn helps to ease congestion and improve air quality, so it’s a win-win situation for business, the economy, the environment and public health.”