Traffic jam group to 'iron out issues'

Published Wednesday, 03 October 2012
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A multi-agency review into the effects of the new bus lanes set up in Belfast is an attempt to ensure traffic runs more smoothly, Belfast's Lord Mayor has said.

Traffic jam group to 'iron out issues'
The new bus lanes brought Belfast city centre to a standstill last month. (© UTV)

As part of Belfast on the Move, the lanes came into force last month but caused major traffic tailbacks for commuters in the city.

Ciaran De Burca, DRD's Director of Transport Projects, hopes the project will cut the number of vehicles in Belfast by persuading those who pass through the city to use different routes, and gives priority to buses and cyclists.

But the traffic jams sparked angry reactions from motorists in September, when they faced significant delays.

On Tuesday it was revealed the Roads Service would team up with Translink and police in a special taskforce which will meet fortnightly for the next eight weeks to look into traffic issues in the city centre.

Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson said: "There has been huge frustration with the snarl ups of vehicles we've had at the back of City Hall and in and around the city centre.

"That's not good for business but the impact of this plan should free up lane space, should free up commuters, residents, people coming into the city centre to shop or to enjoy themselves, free up the traffic space and lane space for them.

"That's the intended purpose, so when it works it will work well and Translink are already saying that it's successful from their point of view in terms of efficiency and frequency of their bus service.

"That's a good thing for the city of Belfast. We now need to make sure the private lanes for motorists are doing exactly the same," he added.

But businesses fear the effects of last month's congestion on the roads could mean a loss of business in already difficult economic times for city traders.

Belfast Chamber of Commerce's Joe Jordan said they appreciate that steps are being taken to alleviate the situation, but believes the changes were too much, too soon.

"If the bus lanes had have been phased in properly, if the enabling works had been done first, if they had their park and ride sites in place and coordinated with Translink to service those sites, we would not have needed the task force," he commented.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Patrick in Belfast wrote (846 days ago):
I am a Metro bus driver in Belfast. This first phase on the bus lanes has greatly improved the journey for bus users into town. The lanes are also at the back of city hall which is not one of the main retail areas. The whole point of this project is to give priority to public transport and to actively discourage commuter traffic in the central area and this in my eyes is exactly what it is doing so its a success. The main car parks and retail areas such as royal avenue have not been changed so don't see what Mr Jordan is complaining about.
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