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Rapid transit for Belfast is viable

8 April, 2008

Sinn Féin Regional Development Minister, Conor Murphy MP MLA, today announced that a rapid transit network for Belfast is viable.

Mr Murphy said:

"Transportation experts have concluded that the most appropriate system for the city is a modern and high class bus based system.

"Rapid transit is an exciting prospect for Belfast and I have recently visited the Netherlands and have seen examples of what could be possible here.

"It is however, important to share the findings and recommendations of the studies with those who can assist me in reaching a final decision on what is the best system for Belfast. I therefore want to hear the views from a range of key interests taking into account all the facts of the studies, including the likely number of passengers and costs and therefore intend to engage with members of the Regional Development Committee and subsequently with other parties whose contribution will be important and vital.

"Many people may not know precisely what is meant by rapid transit but it is something new that we have never had before in terms of public transport. I envisage it as a service offering improved speed, reliability, comfort and access features over conventional public transport. It is a service that should be segregated from other traffic as much as possible with new vehicle designs that enhance the journey and reflect Belfast as a 21st century city.

"This is our opportunity to create a new dynamic transportation system for the city, one that helps link people to jobs, hospitals, schools and colleges. One that links communities to the city centre and the emerging opportunities in Titanic Quarter. A system that can be expanded to other parts of the city in due course, a system that attracts drivers out of their cars as they see the advantages of rapid transit.

"The Programme for Government highlights rapid transit as a key priority with a commitment to start work on the first scheme by 2011. I have secured £111million for rapid transit and continue to explore opportunities to draw in additional private sector finance."

Three pilot routes have been considered in the studies: one running from Dundonald in the East to the city centre; one serving the development in Titanic Quarter and onwards to Queen's University and the City Hospital; and one into the West from the city centre to the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) and beyond into West Belfast.

An illustration of the estimated costs and potential patronage is:

Bus Rapid Transit

Capital costs (£m)
Annual Operating costs (£m)
Passengers Morning peak hour

East Belfast scheme
West Belfast scheme
Titanic scheme

Light Rail

Capital costs (£m)
Annual Operating costs (£m)
Passengers Morning peak hour

East Belfast scheme
West Belfast scheme
Titanic scheme

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