Last Friday I had some work to do and I was in the eastern part of Belfast City Centre. I decided to do it in a coffee shop – in Ballyhackamore.
Why? Well, because I could via the new Glider. I would do it again too – I met three people I knew while there and that led to some useful additional points for the research work I was doing. Ballyhackamore is a hub – and it will only become more so because it is now so obviously easy to get to.
It is not, of course, that it wasn’t already easy to get to. The Glider, as one traveller put it on the BBC, “is only a bus at the end of the day”. The reason it will succeed is more emotional than rational.
Ultimately, the basic reason may be the simple map above. Compared to the Belfast Metro (Citybus) network, it is a lot simpler. People choosing locations to go, as I was, will choose from the map. Next week I may well choose the Kennedy Centre; the following Dundonald; and so on.
Comfort matters too. The bus is newer and more spacious – for example, people can bring on prams at off-peak times without any disturbance, as they could on a train but not on a double decker.
Part of it is pure branding. I overheard one child expressing delight at the very notion of “gliding”.
This is not to discount the rational reasons for liking it, from the at-level platforms to the USB ports. But in the end it plays to emotion rather than reason. For that, it will likely succeed.