West Belfast business closes doors and blames new 12-hour bus lanes
A BUSINESS in west Belfast has said it is closing one of its shops due to the impact of new 12-hour bus lanes.
Little Mexican Deli on Falls Road, made the announcement in a Facebook post, stating that it had not re-opened after holidays.
It offers Mexican street food with sit-in, takeaway and delivery services.
It will continue to operate as normal from its other branch, at the Dairy Farm shopping centre on Stewartstown Road.
Starting on Monday, bus lanes on the Falls, Stewartstown and Andersonstown Roads, as well as Divis Street, will operate from 7am to 7pm six days a week from Mondays to Saturdays.
They are being introduced in preparation for the launch of the new Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT) Glider scheme, which is to become operational on September 3.
Little Mexican Deli said: "There is only one reason we've been forced to close and that is the 12-hour bus lane that will be operational within the next month.
"This has been the hardest decision we've ever had to make but the impact of losing over 40 per cent of our trade would completely ruin our business.
"This means that customers will only be able to park outside our shop from 7pm to 9pm at night."
The Mexican restaurant said it was "absolutely gutted" as the Falls Road shop was "thriving".
"We put 2 years blood, sweat and tears into building this into a successful business. We have had an amazing 2 years on the Falls Road and made some very good new friends and had some great craic with our customers."
A spokesman for the Department for Infrastructure said it had "consulted widely with local communities and elected representatives since 2012" on the new system.
A spokeswoman said: "This has included numerous local public information events where everyone in the area had the opportunity to view the proposals and speak to members of the BRT delivery team.
"12-hour bus lanes and the associated changes to waiting restrictions are required to enable BRT to operate reliably at a high frequency (every 7-8 minutes) between 7am and 7pm and to help guarantee journey time reliability."
Meanwhile, the department has announced that funeral cortèges will also be able to use the new bus lanes.
The department said that "this will provide a safer environment for people to walk behind the hearse and continue the tradition of 'lift and carry' at funerals, whilst also potentially allowing traffic to pass the cortège safely in the adjacent lane".