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 a new and dynamic public transport system for Belfast.  This project was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme for Northern Ireland 2014-2020.

ERDF Logo BRT is operated by Translink under the brand name Glider. 

BRT - Glider logo

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

BRT- Glider The BRT system uses high quality Glider vehicles which provide a modern environment for passengers in terms of space, security and on-board information. The BRT system also incorporates 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 is providing an attractive alternative to private car use.

BRT - Glider became operational on 3 September 2018.

BRT - network

The first phase of the BRT network links East Belfast, West Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre (see BRT - Glider Route Plan). 

It is the Department's 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 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 provides 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. 

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

Glider services have replaced most of the former 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, continue to use parts of the BRT routes and therefore benefit from the increased bus priority.

Feeder and complementary services are provided with appropriate interchange facilities and co-ordinated timetables. The interchange facilities are at Dundonald Park & Ride in the East and at Colin Connect in the West.

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

Glider Vehicles

The Glider vehicles are 18 metre articulated buses with a capacity of 105 people. These articulated vehicles provide a greater capacity than that provided by 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 are a key part of the BRT system image. They have a strong identity and high quality appearance that is easily distinguishable from other public transport vehicles.

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

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

The vehicle interiors are constructed using high quality materials and the engines utilise hybrid diesel/electric technologies emitting low noise, low vibration and low levels of pollutants. Glider vehicles 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 are also provided.

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

Halts and interchanges

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

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

Larger interchange facilities are provided at Dundonald Park & Ride in the East and at Colin Connect in the West.

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

Running ways

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

The bus lanes on the BRT routes operate from 7am to 7pm Monday to Saturday, with relaxations for deliveries, servicing, etc.

Optimum priority is given to Glider vehicles at signalised junctions to ensure reliable journey times. BRT bus lanes are generally 3 metres wide and have been resurfaced over the majority of the route to ensure a high ride quality. Adjoining footways have also been reconstructed to improve the surface for pedestrians. Improvements have been 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 has been installed along the majority of the BRT route. This offers energy savings of over 30% as well as lower maintenance costs. LED lighting technology is also used in traffic signal equipment and there have been improvements to pedestrian crossing facilities along the BRT corridors.

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

Fares

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

Glider payment systems and tariffs are designed to encourage cashless payment. Tickets are purchased prior to boarding, thus minimising waiting times at halts.

Intelligent Transport Systems

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

ITS on the Glider services 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 to give priority for Glider vehicles at signalised junctions

Branding and customer service

A key part of the successful delivery of the high quality BRT system is the strong Glider brand image.

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

Accessibility 

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

The system includes 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

Consultation

The Department initially carried out a public consultation on the policy proposals for BRT from 23 November 2009 to 19 February 2010. 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 BRT.

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.

Contact

For general enquiries, contact the Belfast Rapid Transit Team.

Useful links

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