And great was the gnashing of teeth…

over the implementation of the 20mph speed limit in areas of Belfast city centre where it’s very difficult to exceed 20mph except late at night.

Leaving aside the delay in implementation (not at all exceptional – I’ve seen many examples where legislation has been brought in for a speed limit or other traffic orders like one way systems, but the signs don’t go up for some time), what difference will it make to motorists and pedestrians?

For the record, the area affected is a box, as follows:-

East side: Victoria Street (not included)

North side: Dunbar link, Great Patrick Street, Frederick Street (none included)

West side: Carrick Hill, Millfield, College Avenue, College Square East (none included)

South side: May Street, Donegall Square South, Howard Street (all included)

Thing to note:  no signed through route is included, because all through traffic is directed along Victoria Street and Millfield.

  • Neil

    what difference will it make to motorists and pedestrians?

    Well exactly. Research suggest it’ll make a difference of approximately 1 mph.

    Before 20mph limits were introduced, 85% of the traffic on Islington’s main roads was travelling at an average of 28mph. After the limits were introduced, this average decreased by just 1mph to 27mph. However, before and after surveys covered less than a year all told. Results from Bristol andBrighton’s pilots of 20mph limits tell a similar story, with daytime speeds in Bristol dropping by around 1mph to an average of 23mph.

    That’s assuming the PSNI actually make moves to enforce the new limit (enforcement is optional in Britain). If they enforce it with the same vigor as they enforce the current speed limits on other roads, then it will make literally no difference to anyone. Makes no odds to me anyway as I will travel to Belfast solely to work and as you say 20 mph at rush hour in Belfast sounds well above average speed.

  • Dan

    More token nonsense in Belfast city centre, meanwhile the death traps of the junctions of Graymount Road and Greencastle Close to the Shore Road remain in place, as the stubbornly refuse to rectify the dangerous road markings.

  • In Oxford all residential roads have a 20 mph limit, which is mostly observed, even in the few places where it is possible to drive faster past the parked cars on both sides and the bicycle traffic jams. Visitors leave their cars at the park and rides, then catch buses in.

  • Graham Parsons

    More polishing of the turd that is transport policy in Belfast.

  • aquifer

    Public information sources suggest:
    “If someone is hit by a car at 30 mph they are 50% likely to be killed.
    If someone is hit by a car at 20 mph they are 10% likely to be killed.”
    OK cars might brake before hitting someone, but I am one of the ca 65% who drive over 30 in town. Accelerating to higher speeds is also likely to increase deadly pollution and noise.

    I would be delighted to get through ANY city centre at 20 MPH.

  • Dan

    Written for yer man from the Road Service…

  • Gopher

    There are pedestrian crossings every couple of hundred yards in this area. A revenue generating scheme pure and simple to be rolled out everywhere. We have cycle lanes unused, buses lanes with empty buses and now pointless pedestrian crossings. People need to wise up to these charlatans, if I get knocked down and killed by a car doing thirty in Belfast it has drove through a pedestrian crossing!

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Andy. This question isn’t relevant to the topic as such but I was interested in your thoughts:

    Do you think there would be any benefit in having the Belfast – international airport bus extend it’s route to dunsilly park n ride (via a stop in antrim) with the maiden city flyer stopping at dunsilly too?

    That way the device serves a greater area and it would make it easier to get to the airport via public transport from l’Derry (without being robbed by airporter).

    I was thinking about it after taking another nearly empty bus from the airport to Belfast and shortly thereafter taking a nearly full no 16 bus to Dublin airport…

  • Gopher

    I think your full bus has more to do with an excellent toll road from the border paid by the North availing themselves of no passenger duty in the South.

  • AndyB

    It’s worth asking Translink, isn’t it? There is a bus service 109a from Antrim to the airport (actually the rail replacement service from Lisburn to Antrim) and they could consider extending it to Dunsilly – it might cost too much in the current hostile climate, but it’s worth asking.

  • Neil

    Considering the bus from Belfast to the International (19 miles) costs 10.50 return, while the bus to Ballymena (29.1 miles) costs 9 pounds return, it’s just further evidence of Translink gouging the life out of people where possible, and goes some way towards confirming the suspicion that Translink doesn’t really need the business that would be generated by charging sensible fares when the taxpayer will cover their wages plus any other black holes in their accounts without any of the inconvenience of having to provide a useful service.

    38 miles – 10.50
    58.2 miles – 9.00

  • AndyB

    Firstly, Translink is completely normal in charging extra for its airport services. Bristol charges more for a far shorter distance, for example. Edinburgh trams charge substantially extra to travel to the airport stop – it might even be double the fare to the previous stop, a few hundred yards short.

    Secondly, Translink charge the same or less than companies in GB – with exceptions, but on the whole they’re cheaper. We therefore actually have more sensible fares than they have in GB.

    Thirdly, Translink bus services have NOT been bailed out by the ratepayer. What you think was a black hole in their accounts was created by the withdrawal of a subsidy that EVERY local bus operator in Great Britain receives, especially the privately owned operators – fuel duty rebate, or passenger service operator’s grant, amounting to 89% of the duty paid on diesel fuel. On top of that, most operators in GB are paid to operate loss-making routes. With the exception of a few sponsored rural services, Translink bus services run on farebox and concessionary fares – the profitable routes have to subsidise the loss-making routes in a way that GB private operators would not tolerate.

    The facts always help!

  • Neil

    Edinburgh do seem to have a problem there too, I don’t know about Bristol. I used to spend a lot of time in Edinburgh and in those days I caught a bus to town, which didn’t cost much more than the bus from Corstorphine into town.

    Secondly, Translink charge the same or less than companies in GB – with exceptions, but on the whole they’re cheaper.

    Funnily enough in Edinburgh it’s 1.50 from the city centre to the end of the line on those trams. You’ll not get there for 1.50 in Belfast. I don’t believe that they are cheaper, personal experience and a few minutes on google seems to confirm that.

    Thirdly, Translink bus services have NOT been bailed out by the ratepayer. What you think was a black hole in their accounts was created by the withdrawal of a subsidy etc

    2008/2009: 112 million
    2009/2010: 122 m
    2010/2011: 136 m
    2011/2012: 185 m
    2012/2013: 133 m
    2013/2014: 89 m
    2014/2015: 97 m

    In the same doc, rail subsidies:

    This indicates that in 2010/11 the governments of England, Wales and Scotland provided (collectively) a subsidy of £3.40 per passenger journey. In 2010/11 the DRD provided £7.27 in subsidy per passenger journey.

    The following year it was 11.50 but they bought new trains that year. So more than double the subsidy on trains.

    On buses:

    Subsidy in NI is 43% higher per passenger than in (all of) England

    This analysis indicates that the subsidies Ulsterbus and Metro receive per passenger journey are 15% higher than in Scotland

    But 8% lower than in Wales.

    The facts always help!

    They do.

  • AndyB

    You should distinguish between capital spend (buses and trains, again not unusual in GB) and revenue spend (subsidising the farebox.) I also think that passenger mile is a highly suspect measure when Ulsterbus passenger numbers keep falling.

    The more typical measure up to now has been subsidy per head of population, where we do a lot worse across bus and rail despite having a better rural service. It’s a lot more relevant to trying to get people to use the buses, difficult as that is since the only remotely economic routes are town centre to town centre and shopping centres attract cars rather than bus passengers.

    I’m well aware that Edinburgh has a flat fare of £1.50 across its bus and tram network (apart from the airport) with absolutely no discounts for commuters. No Metro passenger travelling more than 5 times a year needs to pay as much as £1.50 a journey, because the maximum Smartlink fare is less than that.

    London’s Oyster fare is £1, but the bus companies have a guaranteed income as long as they run the services, regardless of whether they carry any passengers or not.

    Short version, as I’ve said several times before, is that it is unthinkable that a private company could run Translink services for less subsidy than DRD currently pays. A big company could eliminate local administration to a degree, but the need to make profits would see the demand for subsidy for unprofitable routes to stop fares rising rise; even on the London model with DRD setting fares and taking the income, it’s hard to see tenders from transport companies in anything other than the short term being less than the current farebox income and subsidy provided to Translink.

  • Gopher

    When are translink prices coming down to reflect the fall in oil prices?

  • AndyB

    The same time as they fall in GB, I imagine.

    Fuel is only part of the cost of running buses, and with the loss of passengers caused by DRD forcing them to raise fares and cut services in order to make up for having the fuel duty rebate that every privately owned bus operator in GB receives withdrawn, all we can expect is less of an increase in 2016.

  • Gopher

    Yup you need drivers and managers to run empty buses, they cost money. I think privatisation is the best way for public transport to find its level here. Unless of course we make it compulsory for civil servants to use public transport to commute to help keep the service going.

  • AndyB

    Ah, privatisation. Guaranteed to cost more in subsidy and/or higher fares and worse services except for the services already making money.