BRT Bus Lanes - Upper Newtownards Road between Sandown Road and Knock Road

Closed 17 Apr 2017

Opened 6 Mar 2017


Belfast Rapid Transit

Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT) is an innovative and ambitious project that will create a new and dynamic public transport system for Belfast. BRT will offer a high quality service providing people with better access to jobs, hospitals, shops, schools, colleges, and entertainment.

The BRT system will use high quality rapid transit vehicles which will provide a modern, comfortable environment for passengers in terms of space, security and on-board information. The BRT system will also incorporate 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 BRT services will provide an attractive alternative to private car use.

The main characteristics of the BRT system, including a short video of the type of vehicle which will operate on BRT, and the benefits it will bring are outlined in this short interactive document.

Further information on the BRT system can be found on the Department’s website at:

BRT services are due to become operational in September 2018.



The Department’s proposals relate to the operating hours of the BRT bus lanes and the waiting restrictions along the BRT routes.

Extension to BRT bus lane operating hours

The BRT bus lanes which have been introduced on Upper Newtownards Road between Sandown Road and Knock Road operate in peak hours only – 7:30am to 9:30am and 3:30pm to 6:30pm, Monday to Friday. The Outline Business Case for BRT recommended that once BRT services start the bus lanes should operate for 12 hours.  In order to provide the necessary priority to operate high frequency, reliable BRT services throughout the day, it is our intention that the operating hours of the BRT bus lanes are extended to 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, prior to the BRT services commencing in September 2018.

In order to achieve this the operating hours of the existing peak hour BRT bus lanes will be extended by way of amending legislation.

Through our ongoing engagement with BRT stakeholders, including local residents, businesses and elected representatives, we have identified a number of potential issues associated with the extension of the bus lane operating hours for people who live and/or work on the routes. In view of this the Department is undertaking this informal consultation to identify the specific issues involved. The feedback received will be used in the development of final proposals that will then be the subject of the statutory Traffic Regulation Order process, including formal public consultation, commencing in autumn 2017.

The proposed bus lane operating hours, and two potential additional exemptions which the Department will consider, including the reasons for them, are as follows:

  • Operating hours: 7am – 7pm, Monday to Saturday inclusive. This will provide the necessary level of priority to allow BRT to operate reliably at high frequency throughout the day.
  • Potential exemption: Loading/unloading ‘window’. A ‘window’ would allow for the loading or unloading of goods from the bus lane and may be required to ensure that local premises can receive deliveries. If such a ‘window’ were to be introduced our preferred option would be 10am – 12 noon, which is similar to other cities.
  • Potential exemption: Drop-off/pick-up. This would allow vehicles to stop in the bus lane, for no more than 2 minutes, to actively drop-off or pick-up passengers. This would reflect the provision included in the current Urban Clearway orders.

Changes to waiting restrictions on BRT routes

It is vitally important to the efficient operation of BRT services that the waiting restrictions in place along the routes are appropriate to the requirements of the services.

The main changes to waiting restrictions, together with the reasons for them, are as follows:

  • New sections of Single Yellow Lines to protect the start of the BRT bus lanes. The start of each bus lane is tapered and this taper is not covered by the bus lane legislation. Therefore, in order to ensure that the entrances to the BRT bus lanes are kept clear, Single Yellow Lines will be introduced.  These Single Yellow Lines will prohibit parking in the BRT bus lane tapers and will have operational hours to match those of the bus lanes.
  • New sections of Double Yellow Lines to protect approaches to BRT halts. The new BRT vehicles have 3 doors to allow quicker boarding and alighting. It is important that the BRT vehicle is able to stop with all 3 doors aligned with the BRT halt kerbline. To ensure the BRT vehicle can make this manoeuvre the approach to each halt must be kept clear of parked vehicles, even outside of bus lane operational hours. This will be achieved by the introduction of appropriate sections of Double Yellow Lines.
  • New or amended sections of waiting restrictions at signalised junctions. In order to maximise traffic flow through the signalised junctions along the route it is proposed to introduce sections of Single or Double Yellow Lines as appropriate.
  • Amendments to operating hours of existing Single Yellow Lines. The operational hours of existing sections of Single Yellow Lines along the route will be amended, where appropriate, to match the operating hours of the BRT bus lanes.



Details of the proposals for the section of the BRT route on Upper Newtownards Road between Sandown Road and Knock Road can be found on the following drawings:

  • Drawing 1 - Between Sandown Road and Astoria Gardens
  • Drawing 2 - Between Astoria Gardens and Ormiston Crescent
  • Drawing 3 - Between Ormiston Crescent and Knock Road



This informal consultation process will last for 6 weeks, from 6 March 2017 to 17 April 2017.  

Should you have any queries regarding the proposals, or if you wish to receive hard copies of any of the documentation, please contact the Department’s BRT project team:

  • In writing to

                       Department for Infrastructure

                       Belfast Rapid Transit Project Team

                       Room 3-09

                       Clarence Court

                       10-18 Adelaide Street


                       BT2 8GB

If you prefer, you may provide your comments in writing to the Department, at the above address, by the closing date of 17 April 2017.

Once this informal consultation is complete we will consider the comments received and develop our final proposals which will then be subject to the statutory Traffic Regulation Order process.



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