The public transport challenge - Greater Belfast

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe


Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland with an urban population of 0.5 million and a total of about one million persons within the Belfast City Region, an area extending some 25-30 miles from the city centre. [DoE NI(1996)]. Since the 1960s, like many industrial-based cities in the UK, Belfast suffered a decline in bus patronage coupled with reduced urban population densities, and a rapid expansion of the car dominated commuter hinterland from outside the city. However, throughout this period, public transport services have been in the public domain and recently the rail operating company and the two bus operators (urban and rural) have been restructured to maximise co-ordination and to provide an integrated public transport service (marketed as Translink) within Northern Ireland and to/from its gateways. This paper gives an overview of the priority measures introduced in the Greater Belfast area in the last decade and discusses road based public transport schemes which are proposed in the near future. Also presented is a long-term vision for urban transport in Belfast reflecting on recent infrastructure developments in other European cities, and in particular, on the Dublin Light Rail proposals.


Permission to publish abstract given by AET.