Plans for Glider service connecting north and south Belfast revealed
THE proposed route for a new Glider bus service connecting north and south Belfast has been revealed.
After considerable public debate, Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd said his preferred route will see the service pass through Antrim Road instead of Shore Road in north Belfast.
The proposed route would also extend as far northwards as Glengormley and to the south of the city in Carryduff.
Subject to funding, it is estimated that the routes could be running by 2027.
It follows the launch of the first phase of the Belfast Rapid Transit Glider service in 2018, connecting east and west Belfast.
Mr O'Dowd said: “I know that people across north and south Belfast have been keen to see progress on extending this successful service so I am pleased to announce my decision on the preferred route. My officials will now commence the detailed design of the proposed G3 route along the Antrim Road in the north, and along the Ormeau Road and Saintfield Road in the south.
"It is important that we are ambitious in terms of our public transport provision and therefore I have decided that the north and south routes should extend to Glengormley and Carryduff, respectively; however, the feasibility of such will be further assessed as part of the detailed design.
"The existing City Centre to Titanic Quarter Glider service will also be extended to connect with Queen's University and the City Hospital."
Translink's Chief Executive, Chris Conway, said he was hopeful more people would now be inspired to choose public transport in north and south Belfast.
South Belfast Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw welcomed the inclusion of Carryduff for the new route.
“As the Carryduff area continues to grow, it is essential it is served by an increasing number of public transport options to get to the city centre and local amenities," she said.
"Nevertheless, it is important to recognise residents' concerns about exactly how this link will be managed, given the reality road infrastructure locally is already under considerable pressure.”
Sinn Féin's North Belfast MP, John Finucane, welcomed the choice of including the Antrim Road instead of Shore Road option.
“Sinn Féin have campaigned on this for some time, and we look forward to seeing the huge benefits this will bring to our part of the city," he said.
Meanwhile, Retail NI boss Glyn Roberts said careful planning was needed to protect businesses.
“The minister has made his decision and we will work with him and his team to progress this scheme," he said.
“Retail NI produced its own report last year which highlighted concerns of our members about deliveries, potential loss of trade and car parking for disabled shoppers on the Ormeau and Antrim Roads with the new Glider route.
“These issues need to be addressed before work is commenced, and Retail NI is very clear that no small business should be in any way be disadvantaged by the proposed Glider routes.”
“The infrastructure minister needs to meet with our members on the Antrim and Ormeau Roads and agree a way forward which will allay their fears.”