“continue to explore opportunities to draw in additional private-sector finance..”

Having noted the Northern Ireland Executive’s decision to increase funding for the Titanic Signature Project I should, I guess, also note the progression of the bus-based Belfast rapid transport system.. except it’s the same pilot scheme revealed in April, which I noted then – it’s still estimated to cost £150million and the Department of Regional Development, having previously secured £111million of public funding, “will continue to explore opportunities to draw in additional private-sector finance”. It’s just taken this long to get through the Executive.. what with someone having taken the ball away for the summer.

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  • Nomad

    Fair enough, no light rail / trams for Belfast. But buses = rapid transport?

  • Nestor Makhno

    Titanic Signature Project = Expensive White Elephant (or should that be White Whale?)

    Is there any enthusiasm for this project among ordinary people? Such a waste of public money.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This bus based rapid transit system is used in cities throughout the world such as Las Vegas, Adelaide, and Amsterdam.

    I’ve been to Las Vegas several times. They don’t have fancy bus-based rapid transit there. I wonder where the Minister is getting this from.

    I’m quite well aware of what this is. They like to call it a “guided bus”, but those of us who know better call it a “misguided bus”. Buses do not and never have had the capability to attract the middle classes away from their cars – even if they are dressed up to look sort of like trams. Trains and trams do have that capability, and this failure of our local government to recognize this simple fact is one that we will reflect upon in the decades to come. This guided bus system is not Conor Murphy’s idea, and it is not Peter Robinson’s idea. It is the brainchild of the weird anti-rail, pro-road civil servants who really do run this country, and they have been proposing this option to anyone who will listen continuously during the past 10-15 years. The fact that this project is going to go ahead shows only that our local politicans are incapable of considering any policy beyond that which is put on their table by the civil servants.

  • willis

    “It is the brainchild of the weird anti-rail, pro-road civil servants who really do run this country, and they have been proposing this option to anyone who will listen continuously during the past 10-15 years.”

    This sounds about right. I wonder if Robbo and Iris want to run buses through this environmental good news story which runs through both of their constituencies?

    http://www.sustrans.org.uk/default.asp?sID=1169805975140

    It is interesting that the link to the DRD is a dead end. Looks like the Department have pulled their report.

  • cynic

    “I wonder if Robbo and Iris want to run buses through this environmental good news story which runs through both of their constituencies?”

    Now let me see. Perhaps 10% to 20% of the locals might benefit directly /indirectly from the bus scheme compared to say 2% who use the Greenway. Guess which the politicians will support?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m a cyclist, and I’m in favour of more cycle routes (when they’re properly done) but I do not agree with the protests about the cycle lane along the old Comber railway line being removed. Before it was a cycle route, it was part of the city’s transport system, and for several decades there have been various proposals about reopening it again. Sorry, but the priority here must be to provide sustainable public transportation to encourage people out of their cars and reduce gridlock as well as pollution.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Wesley Johnston notes on his excellent NI roads site that the DRD have done a report which said :

    The study found that bus based rapid transit produces positive economic results but light rail does not. This is because the likely numbers of passengers do not warrant the extra cost of light rail. There will be the option of migrating to light rail in the future should the demand increase.

    So, the DRD have managed to “discover” that the light rail systems operating successfully all over the world, including the (profitable) Luas system in Dublin, are “not economically viable” where their idea to spend £150m on a bus dressed up as a tram which has to compete with road traffic through the city centre IS viable.

    I am not at all surprised that Wrightbus are in the frame, before the tendering process has even begun. That’s one for Nevin ..

  • willis

    Comrade

    My problem is that I’m not clear what is being proposed. My understanding is that the pedestrians and cyclists were supposed to “share” the route with the buses. Like you I am torn on this one. I’m yet to be convinced this will not be a complete shambles.

  • Comrade Stalin

    willis, I think you are saying that it is hard to believe that there is not enough room on the alignment between Dundonald and Hollywood Arches to fit both this bus route and a cycle track – if so I agree.

    The plan, though, will be a complete shambles. They’re calling it a “rapid transport system”, but it is, in fact, a bus which occasionally gets to use exclusive bus lanes. I don’t understand why it has to cost ~£150m. I’m sure I could paint a thick white line along existing roads and buy a few buses for much cheaper than that.