Dedicated bus routes essential to maintain regularity and uptake of BRT scheme
Buses need exclusive access to BRT lane unimpeded to realise full scheme potential
May 11th: Unite the union’s deputy Regional Secretary, Jackie Pollock, called on the Department of Infrastructure to stand up for the long-awaited Belfast Rapid Transit scheme by ensuring only buses would use the dedicated BRT lanes:
“More than £90 million is to be invested in the Belfast Rapid Transit scheme which is central to efforts to increase public transport utilisation and the broader goals of increasing connectivity across our capital city. The initiative was proposed as a lower cost alternative to having a tram or light rail system but the entire success of the initiative would be undermined if BRT buses lose exclusive use of the BRT lanes.
“BRT represents one of first major investments in Northern Ireland’s public transport infrastructure in decades. Despite the challenges presented by the scheme to our members, Unite has played a positive role throughout in successfully delivering this project proceeds smoothly as we recognise the need for a step-change in public transport infrastructure.
“Our members who will drive BRT buses report that taxis using the dedicated BRT lanes will undermine the entire rationale for this investment by impeding and slowing down the rapid bus services. If this is going to be the outcome, there could be no justification for £90 million in investment or the years of disruption to provide the necessary infrastructure for this project.
“If our society is to take seriously the challenge of lowering the unacceptably high levels of air pollution in Belfast and the need to lower our carbon footprint, we need significant investment in extending dedicated public transport infrastructure to increase its uptake and utilisation.
“Unite has argued repeatedly that the Executive should take an ambitious approach to developing rail connectivity across Northern Ireland and our union has taken successful industrial action in the past to protect bus services and routes.
“BRT is part of that vision. The integrity of this project must be defended. BRT lanes must remain exclusive to BRT buses. It is simply unacceptable for the Belfast Rapid Transit project to be subverted by private sector interests”, Mr Pollock finished.