Council to hear call for extension of Glider service to Glengormley
Antrim and Newtownabbey’s Sinn Fein councillors have called for a proposed Glider route to north Belfast to be extended to Glengormley.
Group leader Councillor Michael Goodman has put forward a motion seeking the backing of the council for this extension which will be presented to members at a meeting on Monday evening.
This proposal is being seconded by party colleague Cllr Rosie Kinnear who is also a Glengormley representative.
A number of proposals have been outlined by the Department for Infrastructure as part of a public consultation for an extension of the service dependent on funding.
The Glider bus service came into operation in September 2018 and provides a rapid transit service between east and west Belfast through the city centre, with a link to the city’s Titanic Quarter.
Development of the service would see Glider provision extended north and south of the city and connecting to the existing service.
Sinn Fein says: “It is disappointing that a route extension to Glengormley is currently being ruled out as unsuitable by the Department despite the obvious advantages to the many residents and businesses in the area.
“We propose the council write to the Minister for Infrastructure to ask that further consideration be given to extending the Glider route to include Glengormley.
“We also ask that the council submit a formal response to the public consultation expressing our support for an extension to Glengormley.This should be done before the consultation’s closure on Monday 4th October 2021.”
An extension from Antrim Road to Glengormley town centre has been ruled out by the Department for Infrastructure due to “the required level of bus priority” which it says “cannot be achieved along this section of the Antrim Road or Ballyclare Road as this would involve road widening and acquisition of land from a third party”.
Noting the busy junction at Ballyclare Road/Hightown Road, the DfI report states that “bus priority would be challenging to achieve without significant impact on general traffic”.
An extension to Sandyknowes Roundabout was also dismissed as any impact on traffic to “achieve bus priority” would not be acceptable to the public.
One of the proposed routes to Newtownabbey would be along the Antrim Road, leaving the city centre along Donegall Street, Clifton Street and Carlisle Circus and continuing along Antrim Road to a proposed park-and-ride facility at O’Neill Road.
According to the DfI proposal, the Antrim Road route would “enhance access” to the Mater Hospital, Belfast Castle, Belfast Zoo and a number of schools.
A new park-and-ride facility at O’Neill Road in Newtownabbey has been suggested by DfI. This development would see some extended and upgraded bus lanes provided.
Another proposed route would take the Glider from Belfast city centre to O’Neill Road via York Street and York Road to Shore Road and Longwood Road. This would require the creation of new bus lanes between Longwood Road and O’Neill Road.
It is expected that this proposal would “enhance access” to Ulster University, Cityside Retail Park, Abbeycentre, Longwood Retail Park, Seaview Stadium and two leisure centres.
Another option from Shore Road to Longwood Road would see a park-and- ride facility located at Longwood Road.
Ruled out was an extension beyond Longwood Road to a park-and-ride at Global Point Avenue which would also require “significant highway widening”.
The DfI report suggests that the creation of bus lanes in this area would result in “significant detriment to traffic and unacceptable levels of congestion in the area”.
A route along Crumlin Road was also dismissed for a Glider extension as the levels of bus priority cannot be provided “without highway widening”, which would result in loss of on-street residential parking. Operating in “mixed traffic”, the report suggests would result in “peak delays and unreliable journey times”.
City centre connections at Frederick Street, Millfield and Great Patrick Street were also ruled out as they would have a “limited opportunity to provide high levels of bus priority and do not offer a high level of city centre access”.
Speaking at the launch of the public consultation, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “I want the Glider service to bring people in all parts of our city closer together and open up opportunities for all communities, not just a few.
“The purpose of the consultation is to inform the public and other stakeholders of the emerging route options for the extension and to seek their views on those routes.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
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