Belfast hub will help facilitate a mixed transport system in Northern Ireland

News Letter editorial of Saturday March 19 2022:
News Letter editorialNews Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

In the run-up to the Covid pandemic, public transport in Northern Ireland was having a renaissance.

The still relatively new Glider service between west and east Belfast was often full.

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Trains had become popular again, in contrast to 20 years previously, when there was talk of truncating the Province’s already limited rail network.

Yet private motoring remained busy pre pandemic, with new stretches of road having been built on NI’s key corridors: among them the A6, A1, A26 and A4.

The reasons for the resurgence in public transport were not clear. It might be part environmental, part that people want occasional breaks from the pressure of driving.

Lockdown changed all, and for most of the last two years buses and trains have been under used. With many people working from home, would they return on the same scale? But passengers are indeed gradually returning.

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Work is under way on a transport hub beside Great Victoria Street train and Europa bus centre. It will be sad to see the old Boyne Bridge go, but the hub will link coach, rail and cycling. Only a few decades ago there was no train at the site, having first had a station in the 1830s but train did return in the 1990s.

Future patterns of travel are impossible to predict but a return to the pre Covid mix of public transport alongside a good road network so people have the freedom of the car would be ideal.

The hub should help facilitate that.

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