Belfast Rapid Transit - Glider - introduction

An introduction to Belfast Rapid Transit - Glider (BRT - Glider) including the aims of the project, the characteristics of BRT - Glider and useful links to related content.

What is Belfast Rapid Transit - Glider

Belfast Rapid Transit - Glider (BRT - Glider) is an innovative and ambitious project that will create a new and dynamic public transport system for Belfast.  This project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme for Northern Ireland 2014-2020.

ERDF Logo BRT will operate under the brand name Glider. 

BRT - Glider logo

BRT - Glider will offer a high quality service providing people with better access to jobs, hospitals, shops, schools, colleges, and entertainment.  

BRT- Glider The BRT system will use high quality Glider vehicles which will provide a modern, comfortable environment for passengers in terms of space, security and on-board information. The BRT system will also incorporate high quality halts with easy access to vehicles, real time information systems for easier journey planning and off-vehicle ticketing to speed up the boarding process. The speed, reliability and comfort of the Glider services will provide an attractive alternative to private car use.

BRT - Glider is scheduled to become operational in September 2018.

The main characteristics of the BRT system, including a video of the Glider vehicle and the benefits it will bring are outlined in this short interactive document.

BRT - network

The first phase of the BRT network, which is currently being implemented, will link East Belfast, West Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre (see BRT - Glider Route Plan). 

It is the intention to extend the BRT network to other areas of Belfast, subject to the success of phase 1 and the availability of funding. The Department is already engaging with those responsible for proposed developments on potential routes outside the current network to ensure as far as possible that the future provision of BRT to key areas is not prejudiced.

Characteristics of BRT - Glider

There are a number of key principles underlying the development of the characteristics of BRT - Glider:

  • a strong brand image that delivers a clear identity for the system
  • high quality in all aspects of the system, including the fixed infrastructure, vehicles, operations and customer services
  • high standards of reliability with punctual service operation and predictable journey times
  • integration with other modes of sustainable transport
  • delivery of a complete system

Glider Services

Glider will provide fast and reliable services connecting East and West Belfast, Titanic Quarter and key locations of economic and social activity in the city centre and along the BRT corridors. 

Subject to demand, Glider services will operate between 5:00 am and 12:00 midnight on weekdays. At the weekend, services will start slightly later in the morning and potentially operate later at night. Services will operate at 7-8 minute intervals throughout the working day. Early morning and late evening services will operate at intervals of around 20 minutes. Services will be tailored to meet times of peak demand such as major sporting or entertainment events.

Glider services will replace most of the current Metro services on the routes that it serves: Metro 4 in East Belfast and Metro 10 in West Belfast. Some Metro services, which serve destinations off the routes, will continue to use parts of the BRT routes and therefore benefit from the increased bus priority.

When BRT - Glider comes into operation in September 2018 feeder and/or complementary services will be provided with appropriate interchange facilities and co-ordinated timetables. The interchange facilities will be provided at Dundonald Park & Ride in the East and at Colin Town Centre Transport Hub in the West.

Ulsterbus services will continue to operate on the BRT corridors. They will benefit from the increased bus priority on the routes and therefore experience shorter, more reliable journey times.

Glider Vehicles

The Glider vehicles will be 18 metre articulated buses with a capacity of 105 people. These articulated vehicles provide a greater capacity than that provided by current double deck buses. Articulated vehicles are widely accepted as the vehicle of choice for bus-based rapid transit systems worldwide.

BRT - Glider - front view The Glider vehicles will be a key part of the system image. They have a strong identity and high quality appearance that is easily distinguishable from other public transport vehicles.

The Glider vehicles will provide a high quality environment for passengers in terms of comfort, space, security and on-board information.

BRT - Glider accessibility They will provide accessible easy boarding for people with reduced mobility and parents with pushchairs as well as a mix of standing and seating areas with good legroom. They have 3 sets of double doors and good circulation room to enable rapid boarding and alighting, minimising the time spent at halts and therefore reducing journey times. BRT - Glider interior

The vehicle interiors are constructed using high quality materials and the engines will utilise the latest hybrid diesel/electric technologies emitting low noise, low vibration and low levels of pollutants. Glider vehicles will have onboard information screens providing real time journey information and audio visual next halt and destination announcements. Free on-board Wi-Fi and USB charging facilities will also be provided.

The Glider vehicles will be equipped with CCTV for both passenger and driver safety.

Halts and interchanges

This project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme for Northern Ireland 2014-2020.The halts will also form a key part of the BRT system image and will be distinct and of a high quality. The halts will provide shelter, security and travel information as well as enabling quick and easy access to the vehicles.

BRT - Glider halt In order to provide shorter, more reliable journey times, Glider halts will be around 400 metres apart. Where there are key locations of high demand, halts will be closer together. This means that the number of existing bus stops on the BRT routes will be reduced by about a third.

Larger interchange facilities will be provided at Dundonald Park & Ride in the East and at the Colin Town Centre Transport Hub in the West.

The interchange facilities will enable easy and convenient interchange between feeder services and Glider services. Secure cycle parking will be provided at these facilities and at other halts along the routes, where appropriate.

Running ways

The running ways or lanes which the Glider vehicles will use will consist of both dedicated bus lanes and mixed traffic lanes. Where Glider services operate on bus lanes these will also be available for use by other bus services, cyclists, motorcyclists, permitted taxis and emergency vehicles. Where Glider services operate on mixed traffic lanes these will be available for use by all traffic.

The majority of the bus lanes introduced on the routes prior to Glider becoming operational in September 2018 will operate during peak hours only.  When Glider becomes operational it is intended that all the bus lanes on the BRT routes will operate from 7am to 7pm, with relaxations for deliveries, servicing, etc.

Belfast Rapid Transit in the city centre
Belfast Rapid Transit in the city centre
In order to provide priority and journey time reliability for Glider vehicles it will be necessary to remove and/or relocate on-street parking that affects the BRT bus lanes. Existing lay-by parking will generally be retained and short-term parking restrictions will be introduced to discourage all day parking and encourage the turnover of parking spaces. There will be strict enforcement of parking and driving offences in the running ways to ensure journey time reliability for the Glider service.

Optimum priority will be given to Glider vehicles at signalised junctions to ensure reliable journey times. BRT bus lanes will generally be 3 metres wide and will be resurfaced over the majority of the route to ensure a high ride quality. Aligning footways will also be reconstructed to improve the surface for pedestrians. Improvements will be made to surface drainage systems with more extensive use of side inlet gullies to further enhance ride quality, reduce road noise and prevent damage to the ironwork.

Environmentally friendly LED street lighting will be installed along the majority of the route. This will offer energy savings of over 30% as well as lower maintenance costs. LED lighting technology will also be used in traffic signal equipment and there will be improvements to pedestrian crossing facilities along the BRT corridors.

There will be a noticeable impact on the general traffic that uses the BRT corridors, particularly as the system gets established. The impact will reduce as more people realise the benefits of using Glider. It is acknowledged that there is a need for many people to continue using their cars and for commercial traffic to be able to move about the city. The BRT system aims to deliver an appropriate balance between these competing demands.

The bus lanes on which Glider services will operate will be strictly enforced by way of static cameras and mobile detection units. Unauthorised vehicles using the bus lanes during the bus lane operating hours will be subject to a fine, currently up to £90.


Glider fares will be comparable with existing metro fares on the routes and concessionary fares will apply as they do to other forms of public transport throughout Belfast.

Payment systems and tariffs will be designed to encourage cashless payment. Tickets will be purchased prior to boarding to minimise waiting times at halts and will be integrated with other forms of public transport, where possible, to enable seamless interchange.

Intelligent Transport Systems

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) will enable users to be better informed and make safer, more coordinated, and ‘smarter’ use of public transport networks.

ITS on the Glider services will include:

  • accurate real-time passenger information including pre-trip and real-time journey information via onboard displays and through internet and mobile phone services
  • audio announcements on board the vehicles
  • automatic vehicle location system and signal control systems designed to give priority for Glider vehicles at signalised junctions

Branding and customer service

A key part of the successful delivery of high quality rapid transit systems is the development of a strong Glider brand image.

The Glider brand will be applied to all aspects of the system including travel information, halts, vehicles and signage. High quality customer service will be a key objective of the system.


The BRT system has been designed in conjunction with organisations representing people with disabilities and older people, to make it as accessible as possible.

The system will include a number of features specifically aimed at improving accessibility:

  • 3 sets of double doors on the Glider vehicles – for improved access and egress
  • high levels of circulation space within the vehicles
  • dedicated space for wheelchair users
  • priority seating for people with disabilities and older people
  • audio visual next stop and destination announcements on board the vehicles
  • raised kerbs at the halts and automatic ramps on vehicles to reduce step heights and enable easy access and egress from the vehicles
  • CCTV both on board the vehicles and at halts


The Department initially carried out a public consultation on the policy proposals for BRT from 23 November 2009 to 19 February 2010. More recently a further public consultation, focusing on the route options for BRT and a draft Equality Impact Assessment of the proposals, was carried out from 12 October 2011 to 6 January 2012.

These consultations indicated broad support for the proposals.

In addition to these formal public consultations, as the detailed designs for each section of the BRT routes were completed, local Public Information Events were held at locations along the routes. These events provided an opportunity for local residents, businesses and elected representatives to view the plans and speak to members of the BRT project team.


For general enquiries, contact the Belfast Rapid Transit Team.

Useful links

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