Commuters now stand for 30 mins on Glider every day — and it’s wrong to compare a small city such as Belfast to London

A reader sent this picture in that she had taken at Connswater to accompany a letter complaining about over-crowding on the route that she had used for 30 years without ever having to stand, but was now standing almost every day
A reader sent this picture in that she had taken at Connswater to accompany a letter complaining about over-crowding on the route that she had used for 30 years without ever having to stand, but was now standing almost every day

In an article yesterday (see link below), I examined the sharp fall in the seating capacity of Gliders in east Belfast compared to buses.

My analysis found that between 8am and 9am the number of seats on offer between Knock and the city centre had plunged from around 900 to around 400.

The overall capacity was down a bit too, from around 1,100 to around 1,000.

The Gliders have much more standing room than the old double deckers, hence the way in which seating provision is radically down but total capacity is only slightly down.

This means that hundreds of people every day are standing for long periods when previously they sat all the way in and all the way home.

Translink and its defenders point out that standing was always going to be a feature of the Gliders, because it is a rapid transit system. But there is a huge flaw in this logic.

Passengers are now standing at rush hour from, usually, somewhere between Stormont and Knock all the way into the city. From there it still takes about 30 more minutes to get into the centre.

So that is like the London Tube you might think? It is often so crammed that it has to leave passengers at a station until the next one comes.

But the Tube has a huge In-Out ‘churn’. It might be full for three stops then largely empty, then fill up again. Seats keep coming free.

The Glider is not like that. Once it fills up heading into Belfast, very few people get off.

Thus, as one furious reader wrote this week, people are routinely standing for 30 mins, never having stood on the route before.

Sometimes in London you have to stand 30+ mins. Sometimes. On some routes at some times, often.

But London is a mega city. Belfast is not.

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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