Belfast Rapid Transit - background

The proposals for Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT) are in line with the Department’s public transportation strategies and plans. The proposals have been developed through the preparation of detailed business cases and have attracted broad political support from the NI Assembly.

Regional Development Strategy 2001 

The Regional Development Strategy 2001 recognised the transportation network as being critical to improved accessibility and mobility. It found that high quality, high capacity, accessible services could be provided by the development of a rapid transit network in Belfast.

The Strategy’s long-term vision for transportation in Northern Ireland was:

“to have a modern, sustainable, safe transportation system which benefits society, the economy and the environment and which actively contributes to social inclusion and everyone’s quality of life”.

The Regional Transportation Strategy 2002 to 2012

The Regional Transportation Strategy supported the wider Regional Development Strategy and recommended the commencement of work on a rapid transit system in the Belfast Metropolitan Area.

New Approach to Regional Transportation

In 2012 the Department published the New Approach to Regional Transportation which outlines the high level aims and strategic objectives for transportation in Northern Ireland. The Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT) project aligns with the High Level Aims and Strategic Objectives of this new approach.

The Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan 2015 

The Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan (published 2004) sets out a range of proposals to address the transport problems in the Belfast Metropolitan Area which, when implemented, will start the move towards a sustainable transport system that supports the longer term aspirations of the Regional Development Strategy.

The Plan endorses the recommendations of the Regional Transportation Strategy and identifies the proposal to introduce rapid transit services as a key component of future plans for public transport.

Strategic Outline Case for Rapid Transit 

In 2007 the Department commissioned transport consultants to undertake a feasibility study looking at possible routes and technologies for rapid transit in Belfast. These consultants produced a Strategic Outline Case, which was issued by the Department in April 2008, and confirmed that a bus based rapid transit system is viable for Belfast. In addition the Strategic Outline Case identified an initial network of three routes connecting East Belfast, West Belfast and Titanic Quarter with and through the city centre.

Executive support 

In November 2008 the Executive endorsed the design and construction of the proposed rapid transit network in Belfast. The then Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy MP MLA, subsequently launched the proposals for BRT at the Bus Rapid Transit UK conference in Belfast on 1 December 2008.

Outline Business Case for Belfast Rapid Transit 

In April 2011 the Department started the preparation of an Outline Business Case for BRT. The Outline Business Case was undertaken to identify the preferred option for BRT in terms of the network routes, procurement strategy and business model.

As part of the Outline Business Case process the Department carried out a public consultation on the route options for BRT and a draft Equality Impact Assessment of the BRT proposals. This consultation included public exhibitions of the proposals in East Belfast, West Belfast and Belfast city centre. Following this consultation the Department produced a Consultation Report and a Final Equality Impact Assessment.

The Outline Business Case for BRT was completed in May 2012. The Department subsequently produced a Highlights from the Outline Business Case document which provides details of the characteristics of BRT, the Outline Business Case methodology and the key findings and recommendations.  The Outline Business Case was approved by the Department of Finance & Personnel in August 2012. 

Committee for Regional Development 

The Committee for Regional Development was briefed on the key findings of the Outline Business Case and the Recommended Option in September 2012 and expressed its continued support for the BRT project.

Further Executive support 

In November 2012 the then Minister for Regional Development, Danny Kennedy MLA, presented a paper to the Executive and received its support for the detailed design and implementation of the BRT system based on the Recommended Option derived from the Outline Business Case.

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