The sunday debate – tell us about your commute to work…

In the bar last night I was talking with a guy who lives in Belfast but works in Swords in North County Dublin. He commutes around 3 hours 10mins a day, nearly 16 hours a week. He is up at 6am leaves the house at 6:30am and is in work for around 8am. He leaves work at 4 and is back home around 5:45pm. When I looked at him in amazement he said that is nothing, there is a guy in his firm commuting … Read more

Is Northern Ireland’s love affair with diesel cars coming to the end of the road?

People in Northern Ireland really love their diesel vehicles. In fact, around 60% of vehicles on the road are diesel powered, and about 45% of private cars. Just one small issue, diesel pollution is killing people. If sitting in a traffic jam on the Westlink is not depressing enough, now you know that you are also slowly killing yourself and everyone around you. Researchers estimate diesel pollution kills around 30,000 people every year. From the Guardian: The global human health impact … Read more

A fresh start for the A5 – but at what cost?

Disclaimer: being a strong public transport advocate does not stop me from enjoying the open road, gliding effortlessly past slower traffic [You don’t say – Ed] Indeed – but we all have too many things to do that cannot conveniently be done by bike, bus or train… Mick has already considered the opportunity cost of the £75 million promised by the Irish Government for the A5 scheme from Newbuildings to Strabane, although I think that money could buy several Narrow … Read more

Coleraine-Waterside Phase 2 contract awarded

With the controversy well recounted over the escalation of costs for the upgrade of this section of railway line, I think I should start this post with a little explanation well known to those of us who have ever been involved in procurement, whether public sector or private sector. Basically, and regardless of the skills of your Quantity Surveyor who has their ear to the ground and knows very well what the going rate is for the materials needed for … Read more

Committee for Regional Development has “No confidence” in the Department’s budgeting abilities

Having had a motion of no confidence in the DRD’s ability to budget passed in the Assembly last night (including recycling my own reference to Oliver Twist but not necessarily as cleverly), a relationship which has at best been difficult appears to have descended into outright hostility between the Committee for Regional Development on the one hand and the Minister, Danny Kennedy, and his Departmental officials on the other. I have written before about the difficulties faced with the 2015-16 … Read more

Belfast Bikes: gearing up for a spoketacular revolution?

It’s been 25 years or more since I last rode a bicycle when I was a teenager. Cycling proficiency is a dim memory of riding along a road painted onto the tarmac playground with an arm stuck out to indicate I was about to turn. It doesn’t take long to walk across Belfast. Yet the ten minutes from the Waterfront Hall to the Cathedral Quarter could be halved if who wheels took the strain. And in dry weather, biking across … Read more

Belfast the most congested city in the UK? (and 14th in the world)

Belfast congestion tends to disappear into insignificance when you are crawling for 10 miles along the M77 in Scotland at 8 o’clock on a Tuesday morning – it gives a whole new perspective on the hill section of the M2, and certainly on Victoria Street in the City Centre. Today’s Belfast Telegraph carries the results of the latest TomTom traffic index. My good friend and actual expert on the subject, Wesley Johnston, was unavailable and recommended me to comment on … Read more

Motoring could become more expensive for NI motorists

Slugger has had a number of excellent articles this year on transport especially in Belfast with the new bus lanes etc. Largely un-noticed, however, has been one seemingly unimportant event which may have significant relevance for many of Northern Ireland’s drivers. Clearly the recent reduction in the price of fuel is welcomed by many / most. However, despite the fall in price it must be remembered that most of the cost of fuel is tax and that tax might be … Read more

Transport options for Belfast. Who gets priority on our roads?

Andy Boal explores the transport options for Belfast It’s been interesting to read the responses to Brian’s post, but I’ve had a good look at the DRD’s proposed budget cuts and the consequences for public transport. It’s grim reading. Before we get into that, let’s start with a few principles. First of all, there is limited roadspace in Belfast, and a lot of people trying to use it.  It needs to be prioritised. Secondly, a lot of drivers have little or … Read more

Traffic Today, Gondola Tomorrow – A proposal for a ski lift between Belfast and Lisburn

Anthony McNamee is proposing  this radical transport idea to ease congestion and make life easier for commuters. The idea is not as crazy as it sounds. There is a 1km Gondola system over the river Thames in London.  For over 10 years I drove the road from Newry to Belfast and back, a daily commute of anything up to two hours in each direction. I was there in 2006 and 2007 for the full pain of the M1-widening project, and … Read more

The Belfast Urban Motorway (Wesley Johnston): economic, engineering, political and social drivers that created Belfast’s road network

Imagine an elevated three-lane motorway encircling Belfast city centre. A mini-M25 taking through-traffic off the inner-city streets, serving all parts of the city equally? Imagine the noise and pollution from an above ground ring-road, jammed full beyond its intended capacity, severing communities with its concrete and tarmac. A monument to the victory of private over public transport? “Fundamentally, it is a story about the contradictory needs of the people of Belfast and what they were and were not prepared to … Read more

“a challenging project for which there is no agreed international framework…”

Despite having agreed “a detailed timetable” at a North South Ministerial Council in October 2012 “to bring in new laws for the mutual recognition of penalty points in both jurisdictions” The Ministers agreed the detailed timetable for the drafting, passage and enactment of parallel legislation, north and south, by 31st December 2014 to allow the mutual recognition of penalty points across Ireland. The timetable was agreed at today’s North South Ministerial Council Transport Meeting in Armagh, where Minister Varadkar met with the … Read more

Where are our MLAs?

On a sunny Saturday over 70 young people from across the country came together to discuss transport. Many of these young people had travelled long distances to get there because they felt passionately about this issue in their area. A look at the #transportNI timeline will show the strength of feeling over the issue of Translink and access to transport The event was run by the NI Youth Forum and the British Youth Council. All 108 MLAs were invited along … Read more

Conor Murphy starving North South transport links of cash

One of the less noted parts of the draft budget has been that of the Department of Regional Development. An 11 mile section of the railway line between Lisburn and Lurgan requires £40 million of repairs. The draft budget has allocated monies to improve the Coleraine to Londonderry line which would, Murphy claims, otherwise have been faced with closure but none to the Belfast Dublin line. Since money is not being spent on the Belfast to Dublin service, it will … Read more

IDS the Merthyr expert

The Western Mail reports on Iain Duncan Smith’s comments on the lack of mobilty of Merthyr people. Mr Duncan Smith said people in Merthyr “didn’t know if they got on the bus, an hour’s journey they’d be in Cardiff and they could look for the job there”. He added: “We need to recognise the jobs often don’t come to you. Sometimes you need to go to the jobs.” Dai Havard, the MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, said: “These ministers … Read more