Glider (Belfast)

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GliderBus-Belfast-BeaconOfHope-P1510222 (44643386565).jpg
A Glider bus stop

Glider is a bus rapid transit system in Belfast, Northern Ireland, designed to improve the efficiency of mass transit in the city by connecting East and West Belfast and the Titanic Quarter via the city centre.[1] The service is operated by Translink.[2][3]

There are two routes, G1 (West to East Belfast) and G2 (city centre to Titanic Quarter). The busways total 15.2 miles (24.5 km) in length using both dedicated bus lanes and mixed traffic lanes. Costing approximately £100m of public funds,[4] construction started in 2014, and opened in late 2018. It uses a fleet of 18m-long Van Hool ExquiCity articulated buses. Weekday services run from soon after 5 a.m. to soon after 11 p.m. (other times at weekends and public holidays), operating on a 7-9 minute interval, reducing to 4-6 minutes at peak times.[5][6]


Belfast Glider G1
McKinstry Road
Lagmore Avenue
Twinbrook Road
Colin Connect
Upper Dunmurry Lane
Lenadoon Avenue
St. Genevieve's
Shaw's Road
Slievegallion Drive
Casement Park
Fruithill Park
Beech Hall
Kennedy Centre
Falls Park
City Cemetery
Beechville Park
Children's Hospital
Royal Hospitals
Twin Spires
Divis Tower
College Square East Bus interchange NI Railways
G2 loop
Wellington Place
May Street (City Hall)
Chichester Street
May Street (St George's Market)
Custom House Square
G2 towards Titanic Quarter
Lanyon Place NI Railways
Short Strand
Templemore Avenue
Holywood Arches
Beersbridge Road
Oakland Avenue
North Road
Astonia Gardens
Greenwood Park
Knock Road
Cabin Hill
Summerhill Avenue
Comber Road
Ulster Hospital
Cherry Hill
Dundonald Park & Ride
Belfast Glider G2
Thompson Dry Dock
G1 towards East Belfast
Custom House Square
May Street (St George's Market)
Chichester Street
May Street (City Hall)
Wellington Place
G1 towards West Belfast

The vehicles are Van Hool ExquiCity 18 articulated buses of a light tram design with three doors and approximately 18 metres in length. The interior is a mixture of seating and standing, plus free WiFi, USB sockets, real-time visual and audible information and CCTV. The diesel hybrid electrical engines emit a low level of pollution and noise complying with environmental concerns. In October 2017 the Glider vehicle was unveiled at the Busworld Europe exhibition in Belgium.[7]

Halts and interchanges[edit]

Halts along each route are approximately 400 metres apart compared to previous bus stops which were 150-250 metres apart.[8] Halts, which are covered and have some seating and ticket machines, are 18 metres as standard but may be extended to 30 metres to allow simultaneous docking of Glider, Metro and Ulsterbus vehicles. Each halt has Kassel kerbs that allow Glider vehicles to align with the footpath to ensure quick and safe boarding and alighting. Glider vehicles on the G1 route operate between Dundonald interchange on Dunlady Road and runs through the city centre continuing to the West Belfast terminus at Mc Kinistry Roundabout on Stewartstown Road.[9][10][11] The G2 route operates from Titanic Quarter to the city centre.[12] Dunlady Road operates as a park & ride facility and can facilitate up to 519 vehicles

Bus lanes[edit]

Bus lanes along Glider routes operate from 07:00 to 19:00 on Monday to Saturday. The Department for Infrastructure introduced the lanes in advance of Glider services commencing. 12 hour bus lanes were introduced on 23 July 2018 in west Belfast, 30 July in East Belfast and on 6 August in the Titanic Quarter on 6 August. City bound bus lanes were suspended in Titanic Quarter on 21 August following severe congestion. [13]

The road width on the bus routes, which incorporate bus lanes and mixed traffic lanes, is designed with a minimum width of 12 metres, with each individual runway a minimum 3 metres wide. As well as the Glider vehicles, any other buses which can carry more than 8 passengers, motorcycles, bicycles, black taxis and wheelchair-accessible private hire taxis are allowed in the bus lanes during their hours of operation.[14]


The routes were rebranded for launch on 3 September 2018. The G1 service combining the planned EWAY and WWAY routes with vehicles running between McKinstry roundabout and Dundonald via the city centre. The G2 service covers the CITI route between Titanic Quarter and city centre[15]


Glider G1 services link the Stewartstown Road, Andersonstown Road, Falls Road and Divis Street in the west and Albertbridge Road and Upper Newtownards Road in the east of the city passing through the city centre.[16][17][18] It passes the Waterfront Hall and St George’s Market located in Oxford Street. Belfast Central Train Station in East Bridge Street connects Belfast with Dublin and is where the Enterprise train departs from. The Europa bus and rail centre Buscentre in Glengall Street also connects Belfast with Dublin by bus as well as the George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport. Central Station connects with the Ulster Way walking tour route. Ballyhackamore has a number of shops and dining places, and at Stormont tourists can visit the woodlands of Stormont Estate and also Northern Ireland’s main Government buildings. The Comber Greenway, a section of the National Cycle Network in development along the old Belfast-Comber railway, is available to walkers and joggers. In the west of the city terminates at McKinstry Road Roundabout near Dairy Farm . The route passes some of the West Belfast Murals, which depict a part of the history and culture of N.Ireland, and is also close to the Belfast Peace Wall[19] an interface between the Shankill Road and Falls Road. Historical tours are available at Milltown Cemetery and Belfast City Cemetery,[20] and the route also connects to scenic Forest Park and Falls Park.[21]


Glider G2 services link the city centre to Titanic Quarter. It operates as a continual loop passing Belfast City Hall, and allowing travel between the Odyssey, Titanic Building and surrounding areas.[22] Stops are located at St George's Market (May Street), City Hall (May Street), Wellington Place, Chichester Street, Custom House Square, Odyssey, Titanic, Thompson Dry Dock and Catalyst Inc.[23] Belfast’s main shopping areas are located in Royal Avenue and Donegall Street and there are two large shopping malls in Castle Court and Victoria Square. Bars, restaurants, cafés and places to stay are found in and around the City Centre, including the Cathedral Quarter and Golden Mile.[24]


Belfast public transit began with the introduction of Trams in 1905, which were superseded by trolley buses in 1938; both were operated by the Belfast Corporation Tramways. The 1967 Transport Act created a public corporation, the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company, to oversee public transport. A Regional Development Strategy document was created, leading to the more specific Regional Transport Strategy and the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan. To further this plan, the "Belfast Rapid Transit" project was undertaken, overseen by the Department for Regional Development, as an extension of the public transport system in Northern Ireland, which in 2016 operates under the name Translink, a collaboration of three companies Citybus (Metro), Ulsterbus and Northern Ireland Railways.

In 2014 the first construction began on the transit system,[25] and by 2015 several sections were partially built.[26]

In December 2015, the Northern Ireland Executive confirmed that the project would go ahead as planned.[27] In 2016, the government continued to give progress updates and detailed information about routes and vehicles.[28]

The Upper Newtownards road bus lane was under construction in 2015 and was expected to be in operation by August, with fines given out to motorists who drove in the lane.[29] However, in June 2016 announcements were still being made of the impending opening of this section.[30]

Several more sections were completed in 2016, and work was begun in 2017 on the west Belfast transit hub which will be part of the system.[31]

Because of budget restrictions, the opening of the system was delayed until 2018.[32] Government officials attributed the delay to budget restrictions.[33]

Trial services carrying paying passengers commenced on 28 August 2018 prior to full service commencing 3 September 2018.[34]


  1. ^ "Guide To Glide". Translink. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  2. ^ "New plan for Belfast's regeneration". RTE News, 28 November 2008
  3. ^ "Belfast Rapid Transit - Highlights from the Outline Business Case". Department for Regional Development, Northern Ireland.
  4. ^ "Cutbacks blamed for closure of Dundonald park and ride terminal - just six months after it opened". Belfast Telegraph
  5. ^ Time To Glide - Service Guide
  6. ^ "Belfast Rapid Transit System: Faster buses in Belfast... and a train to the airport".
  7. ^ "Belfast Rapid Transit 'glider' bus unveiled". The Irish News, 19 October 2017
  8. ^ "Rapid Transit - Features of Rapid Transit". Department of Regional Development Northern Ireland.
  9. ^ "Belfast Rapid Transit - EWAY to Dundonald". Geograph.
  10. ^ Scott, Sarah (9 August 2018). "These are the changes to Belfast's Metro service for the Glider". belfastlive. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  11. ^ "A New Town Centre for Colin". Department of Social Development, United Kingdom.
  12. ^ "04 February 2010 - Poots approves £25million redevelopment plans for Dairy Farm Shopping Centre - Northern Ireland Executive". Government of Northern Ireland.
  13. ^ "New Belfast bus lanes come into operation". BBC News. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Enforcement of bus lanes and bus-only streets | nidirect". nidirect. 6 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  15. ^ Scott, Sarah (9 August 2018). "These are the changes to Belfast's Metro service for the Glider". belfastlive. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  16. ^ Translink. "Glider - Translink". Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  17. ^ "12 October 2011 - Rapid tranist network can transform Belfast - Kennedy - Northern Ireland Executive".
  18. ^ "Belfast's busiest road faces new bus lane misery and 'crazy restrictions'". Belfast Telegraph, By Adrian Rutherford and Simon Watters. 31/07/2015
  19. ^ "Belfast Peace Wall". Love Ireland.
  20. ^ "Cemetery Tours". Cemetery Tours - Visit Belfast.
  21. ^ "Falls Park". Discover Northern Ireland.
  22. ^ "Luas engineer to oversee new Belfast rapid transport system". Breaking News Ireland.
  23. ^ Translink. "Glider - Translink". Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Major facelift in store for city's former 'Golden Mile'". The Irish News. 10 October 2014
  25. ^ "Work Starts On Belfast Rapid Transport System". Construction News.
  26. ^ "Whitemountain Quarries deal signals start of Belfast rapid transport system's next stage". Belfast Telegraph, By John Mulgrew 15/09/2015
  27. ^ "Police college and big A5 road project get go-ahead". Belfast Telegraph, By Noel McAdam, 8/12/2015
  28. ^ " New Belfast Rapid Transit system to be up and running this time next year". Belfast Live, 16 Sep 2016 By Maurice Fitzmaurice
  29. ^ "Rapid Transit System new bus lane in operation". The Loop, 6 August 2015, page 4
  30. ^ "New East Belfast Bus Lanes". East Belfast, 2016-06-21
  31. ^ "Work begins on new £2 million transport hub in west Belfast". The Irish News, Marie Louise McConville. 13 September 2017
  32. ^ "MLAs hit out after Belfast rapid transit plan delayed until 2018". Belfast Telegraph, 17/09/2015. By Rebecca Black
  33. ^ "Belfast Rapid Transit System A Joke". Simply Belfast
  34. ^ Fitzmaurice, Maurice (27 August 2018). "Glider buses to let passengers on from TOMORROW as part of test run". belfastlive. Retrieved 23 November 2018.

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