The new Belfast Rapid Transit Glider vehicle has been unveiled at the Busworld Europe exhibition in Belgium.

The new Glider service will come into operation in September 2018 and is set to transform public transport in Belfast. 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 18 metre 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 in or visits the city.

“The new Glider service will help to meet the future transport needs of our modern, fast growing city. Glider will increase connectivity across the city and help us to achieve our ambition to increase the use of public transport, walking and cycling, as set out in the Programme for Government. 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 and we 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.”