Survey data was collected prior to the start of the works, between 2008 and 2011, and again in autumn 2013 when the measures were fully operational. This survey data was analysed to assess the project’s operational performance.
A summary of the key results is included below. The results of the study in full are contained in the report:
An increase of over 6% in the number of people entering the city centre in the morning peak. This is over 2,200 additional people.
Reduction in traffic levels
An average reduction of over 1,900 in the number of vehicles entering the city centre core area during the morning peak (8.00 am to 9.00 am).
An average reduction of around 10,900 in the number of vehicles entering the city centre core area over a 24 hour period.
Increased walking and cycling
An increase of 12% in the number of pedestrians entering the city centre during the morning peak.
An increase of 18% in the number of cyclists entering the city centre during the morning peak.
Greater public transport use
An increase of over 36% in the number of rail passengers entering the city centre during the morning peak.
An increase of over 17% in the number of bus passengers entering the city centre during the morning peak.
Before and after comparison
A comparison of the ‘before and after’ survey data revealed the following.
Morning peak (8.00 am to 9.00 am)
An increase of over 6% in the number of people entering the city centre.
A decrease of over 4% in the number of people entering the city centre by private car.
More than half (53%) of the people entering the city centre in October 2013 did so using public transport, taxis, walking or cycling – compared to less than half (47%) in 2011.
Average 24 hour period
Almost 11,000 fewer vehicles entering the core city centre streets. Associated reductions in traffic flows through inner city residential areas.
Public transport patronage
An increase of around 2% in the annual number of public transport journeys – 77 million in 2011/12 to 78.5 million in 2012/13.
On track for a further annual increase of around 2% in the number of public transport journeys for 2013/14.
The number of cars parking in Belfast city centre has increased by more than 500 on weekday mornings and by more than 1,000 on Saturday mornings.
Public transport and private car use
A key objective of the project was to provide greater opportunity for people to use public transport for their journeys instead of the private car. This has been supported by significant investment in new trains and buses providing an attractive alternative for the travelling public.
As a result Metro passenger numbers have increased considerably, with an additional 178,000 passengers in the period April to September 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. In addition passenger numbers have increased on Ulsterbus by 164,000 and on NI Railways by 820,000. Overall Rail and Bus journeys were expected to exceed 80 million in 2014 based on current trends.
In the west of the city, the Great Victoria Street bus lane is now carrying two thirds of commuters in the morning peak, yet it only takes up one half of the available road space. The Fisherwick Place bus lane is carrying about one half of commuters and only takes up one of the available 3 lanes, highlighting that the distribution of road space is therefore fully justified in terms of moving people, rather than vehicles.