Belfast is currently undertaking a long-term scheme
to redirect general traffic flows out of Belfast
city centre, in order to permit a greater role for
buses, rapid transit, pedestrians and cycling.
Called Belfast on
the Move, the work is being carried out in
six phases, of which this is the third:
- Streets Ahead Enabling Measures Phase 1
Transport Enabling Measures (STEM)
- Rapid Transit
- City Centre Ring Road Southern Section
- Streets Ahead Enabling Measures Phase 2
- Transforming the City Centre Ring Road
Phase 2 is underway at the time of writing (Nov
2012) and sees road space in the city centre
re-allocated away from general traffic and towards
public transport and cycling. While these
proposals involve creating new bus lanes, they do
not provide sufficient infrastructure to allow
rapid transit vehicles to traverse these streets.
This will require additional work, concurrent with
the construction of the wider rapid transit system
which is (as of Nov 2012) expected to be in
operation by 2017/18.
The map below dates from early 2011 and shows the
proposed routes for rapid transit in the city
centre and the locations of the five planned
halts. As of November 2012, this plan is still
accurate EXCEPT that WWAY is now confirmed to run
on Divis Street. Hence the lower green arrows will
not be needed.
12 Dec 2012: In a talk at the PLACE Architecture
and Built Environment Centre today, Ciarán
de Búrca (the head of the project) stated
that implementation of Rapid Transit would begin
at the end of 2013. This would obviously have to
include this scheme, which sees the Rapid Transit
infrastructure introduced into the city centre. As
most of the work required is outside the city
centre, it's unclear whether the city centre will
see work beginning as early as this. But it
appears to be well on its way to getting started.
He also confirmed that the five halts marked on
the map above are the finalised locations, not
just indicative locations.
23 Nov 2012: The summary of the Outline
Business Case was published yesterday. See the
page on Belfast Rapid Transit for more details.
The main implication for the "Rapid Transit
Enabling Measures" scheme is the decision to route
WWAY along Divis Street rather than Grosvenor
Road. Although the rapid transit system will
probably use the bus lanes being introduced as
part of the STEM
project of 2012/13, there will need to be
additional measures. For example, STEM does not
provide any bus lanes on College Square East*, or
College Avenue that could be used by WWAY going
north. Similarly, Divis Street (a critical
Westlink junction) will have no bus lanes as a
result of STEM.
*there is a northbound bus lane on College Square
East, but only for turning right onto Wellington