Saturday 21 October 2017

Belfast Glider Unveiled

The new Belfast Glider service will come into operation during 2018 and is set to transform public transport in the city. It will offer passengers a modern, efficient public transport service with shorter, more reliable journey times and high frequency services.  

Glider services will operate every 7-8 minutes throughout the working day, linking East Belfast, West Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre.  The 18metre articulated Glider vehicles will use the latest diesel-electric hybrid engine technology delivering a smoother take off from halts, lower noise, reduced vibration and lower emissions.  Each Glider vehicle will carry 105 passengers and will feature real time passenger information, audio next stop and destination announcements, CCTV, free Wi-Fi, USB charging facilities and air conditioning.  
Ciarán de Búrca, Department for Infrastructure Director of Transport Projects said: “Today we see a very significant step forward for the £90m flagship Belfast Rapid Transit project, with the launch of the Glider vehicle and brand. 
“The new Glider vehicles, which have been specifically designed for Belfast, will start arriving in Belfast later this year. They will provide a new, modern, improved public transport experience for everyone who lives, works, socialises or visits the city.

Ciarán de Búrca, added: “The new Glider service will help to meet the future transport needs of our modern, fast growing city. Glider will not only improve connectivity and social interaction across the city but will encourage active travel choices, supporting the growth of sustainable transport”
“I congratulate Van Hool on this magnificent new vehicle which I know will be a valuable asset to Belfast for many years to come”.
The new Glider service will be operated by Translink and Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive, said: “Glider is the iconic new face of public transport in Belfast, helping to energise the city. Our customers can expect a modern, high-capacity and high-frequency rapid transit service which integrates with our existing bus and rail network. With additional features such as on-board Wi-Fi, USB charging facilities and a new innovative and easy-to-use, off-vehicle ticketing system, Glider will deliver quicker boarding times and offer excellent value for money fares.  
“Glider is a transformational development for public transport in Belfast. We’d like to thank the Department for Infrastructure for essential funding to deliver this major project and look forward to the arrival of the first vehicles in Northern Ireland later this year.”

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, who helped to formally unveil the Glider vehicle, said: “As part of Belfast City Council’s Belfast Agenda we have committed to work in partnership to progress the transport infrastructure and create a modern and efficient transport system for Belfast.  This investment by the Department of Infrastructure will help to ensure that our transport infrastructure will be a catalyst for growth, not a constraint to it; and will increase Belfast’s ability to attract future inward investment.
“Belfast - like all strong and vibrant cities - needs a transport system that is befitting a global city, and I believe the new Glider service will help to deliver that for Belfast and its residents, workers and visitors.  The Glider service will encourage more people to opt for public transport which in turn helps to ease congestion and improve air quality, so it’s a win-win situation for business, the economy, the environment and public health.”

Van Hool has supplied Exqui.City vehicles to public transport systems across Europe including Barcelona, Luxembourg, Malmo, Bergen and Metz. This order for the Exqui.City is Van Hool’s first in the UK & Ireland and the first time they have supplied a right-hand drive vehicle.
The Van Hool Exqui City on display at Bus World Kortrijk
The Exqui.City’s elegant design clearly distinguishes it from traditional buses. It emphasises smooth and safe travel through the modern urban environment. The use of diffused lighting and an advanced ergonomic interior are all crucial to making the trip a relaxing experience for passengers. Spacious entrances and exits, a low floor, and wide corridors throughout the vehicle secure the optimal passenger flow and make it accessible for everyone.
The Glider vehicles provide easy boarding for people with reduced mobility and parents with pushchairs as well as a mix of standing and seating areas with good legroom. They have 3 sets of double doors and good circulation room to enable rapid boarding and alighting, minimising the time spent at halts and therefore reducing journey times. The Glider vehicles are also equipped with CCTV for both passenger and driver safety.
The first phase of Glider services will connect East Belfast, West Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre.  To date work has been completed on the new 520 space Dundonald Park & Ride facility and on the following sections of the route:
•         Upper Newtownards Road between Sandown Road and Knock Road – completed March 2015;
•         Falls Road between Grosvenor Road and Whiterock Road – completed October 2015;
•         Upper Newtownards Road between Albertbridge Road and Sandown Road – completed May 2016;
•         Divis Street/Falls Road between Millfield and Grosvenor Road – completed February 2017;
•         Andersonstown Road/Stewartstown Road between Finaghy Road North and Michael Ferguson Roundabout – completed April 2017; and
•         Albertbridge Road between Castlereagh Street and Newtownards Road – completed August 2017.

    Works are ongoing on the following section of the route:
•         Upper Newtownards Road between Knock Road and Dunlady Road;
•         Stewartstown Road between Michael Ferguson Roundabout and McKinstry Road Roundabout;
•         Andersonstown Road/Falls Road between Whiterock Road and Finaghy Road North; 
•         Colin Town Centre Transport Hub & Public Square; and
•         CITI route in the city centre and Titanic Quarter.
   More information on BRT and Glider can be found at and  
   Video and vehicle images can be viewed on the Department for Infrastructure Flickr collection: (or you tube)