M1 and M2 Busways - overview

The M1 and M2 motorways are the main approaches to Belfast from the west and north respectively and are among the most heavily trafficked and congested routes on the strategic road network, particularly during peak periods. Hard shoulder bus lanes have been provided to improve bus journey times and journey reliability.

New hard shoulder bus lane at M1 Junction 8, Blaris off-slip
New hard shoulder bus lane at M1 Junction 8, Blaris off-slip.
From 10 August 2020 the M1 motorway Belfast bound hard shoulder bus lanes have been lengthened by 1.7 kilometres from the approach to Junction 8 at Blaris to Junction 7 at Sprucefield. This will complete provision of hard shoulder bus lanes between Sprucefield Park & Ride and Belfast. These are shown on the attached location map (2020) document.  The work was carried out by Graham Construction, and also includes provision of additional CCTV for monitoring purposes.

This investment of £1.1 million was provided to help promote and encourage the use of public transport for travel into Belfast. It reflects the Department’s policy to promote sustainable transport and assist key bus service routes into Belfast, by further extending bus lanes that were introduced on the M1 and M2 motorways in March 2019.

Bus lanes are available for use by buses and coaches with 28 or more seats, between 7.00 am to 7.00 pm, Monday to Friday and subject to a 40mph maximum speed. Variable Message Signs will indicate when they are in use.

During operational hours the hard shoulder will always remain available for use in an emergency by all vehicles.

The total M1 and M2 Busways scheme cost for 2019 and 2020 works is approximately £5.6 million.


busways leaflet image Previous work on the M1 and M2 Busways scheme in 2019 provided about 7 kilometres of bus lanes on other sections of Belfast bound hard shoulders. These are shown on the attached location map 2019 document. These were opened on 11 March 2019 and the operational hours are 7.00 am to 7.00 pm (Monday to Friday).

On the M1 this added 4.6 kilometres of bus lane, in 2 sections, from Junction 7 at Sprucefield to Junction 6 at Lisburn, and then from Junction 6 to a previous hard shoulder bus lane just after Applegreen Lisburn Services. Through Junction Running (TJR) is in operation at the Applegreen Lisburn Services. For more information on how this operates see the information leaflet on leaving and joining the motorway at Lisburn Services below.

On the M2 this added 2.2 kilometres of bus lane, in 2 sections, from Junction 2 at Greencastle to Junction 1 at Fortwilliam, and then from Fortwilliam to Junction 1B at Duncrue St.

For information on how to use the bus lanes, click on the information leaflet

Scheme documents 


Updated August 2020

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