As a member of the public, I went to The Culturlann for a nosey.

This time I didn’t identify myself as a local journalist because the last time I did that – I was gently ushered out of the public house by the elbows and told that “even though it was a public meeting about the building of a high number of apartments on a piece of land, the media weren’t invited”.

(That’s a story for another time.  Suspicious indeed)

rts logo

Belfast Rapid Transit System, Falls Road

T’was around 4pm on a dull but dry Thursday evening when I strolled into the upstairs room of An Culturlann.  Sitting around looking depressed were a number of DRD men in suits.  Maybe it was just the time of the day or they wanted someone prettier to grace them with their presence.  Me in my gutties, clamped up greasy wig and raincoat wasn’t the most delightful sight admittedly.

The youngest of them, Peter his name badge said – approached  and showed me the plans.  I asked if many people had been in and he said “about 40”.  This is really bad because it will be those who didn’t look at the plans, who will be doing the most shouting when the road works start.  Although ATN carried a double page spread, it’s still a low turn out for something that will change the face of West Belfast.

Work will be starting on the Falls Road in the area of the City Cemetery in June 2014.  The DRD plans to ‘shave the footpaths back a few feet’ to make way for the new bus lanes.

Bus lanes

The BRT will only travel in the bus lane.  Translink buses will also use this lane.

How many normal car lanes will there be?

The new road layout from the bottom of the Falls Road to the Dairy Farm will have three  lanes.

What’s happening with the black taxis?

The DRD is working with them.  They want the black taxis to be complimentary, as opposed to in competition.  One idea is for the black taxis to operate as shuttle services off the main roads and between the estates.  Another being, black taxis will pick up from the BRT halts.   They want the black taxis to come on board with ‘smart payment’ (top up card for journeys).  Tickets can be bought at the halts, this is to make the journey quicker so no money changes hands.

Is ‘smart payment’ going to be like an Oyster card in London, Metro in Barcelona, Subway in New York?

Yes.  The DRD wants to introduce a top up card that allows you to use any form of transport in Belfast.  BRT is all about making Belfast a more cosmopolitan place to visit and travel within.

Will the BRT be run by Translink?

No.  But it will be drivers from Translink driving the vehicles.

What will happen when people leave their cars parked on the Falls Road, Andersonstown Road and Stewartstown Road?

Traffic wardens will be in force.

What about delivery vans parked outside shops along the BRT route?  What way will it work for retailers?

Retailers will have to organise their deliveries to be between 2331 and 0559 because the BRT will be running from 0600 to 2330.

What way will it work for traffic lights?

The traffic light system will be reprogrammed to work for the benefit of the BRT.

If the BRT is quiet but travels at speed, how will I cross the road?

Pedestrian crossings will be enhanced to make it safer for pedestrian and BRT vehicle.