The first proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route for Dublin is to go for planning approval later this year, city councillors have been told.

The Swords/airport to city centre is the first of three planned by the National Transport Authority.

This route and two others, Blanchardstown to UCD and Clongriffin to Tallaght, would use high frequency 'bendy buses' carrying up to 125 passengers.

The three routes would cost a total of €650m and operate like the Luas with pre-paying passengers.

Hugh Cregan of the National Transport Authority told a meeting of Dublin City Council's Transport Committee that it was planned to contract out the service to Dublin Bus as it involved a "complete reconfiguration" of bus services.

Ordinary buses would be using specially constructed lay-bys to pick up passengers to allow BRT vehicles to keep moving.

The BRT vehicles would have priority over left-turning traffic at junctions.

The three routes would come through Stoneybatter, O'Connell Street and the Malahide Road on the northside, requiring continuous two-way bus lanes.

They would also come through Clanbrassil Street and Leeson Street on the southside.

A new contra-flow lane would be created on Pearse Street to allow the Swords route through to St Stephen’s Green.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Cregan said the system would not replace Metro North but operate "in advance" of it in the short to medium term.

The Swords line could be in operation by 2015 if funding was made available.