The draft new bus network plan for Cork has been widely welcomed, with advocates calling for prompt and consistent delivery to ensure public buy-in.
But it emerged that only 5% of people who fed into the public consultation on the draft plan since July were over 65, while this cohort represented 13% of the population. People aged 66 and over benefit from free public transport.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) said further efforts would be made to seek feedback from this age group on the draft network proposals that were released today for a new round of public consultations.
The network project follows a ‘blank review’ of the city’s existing bus network and represents one of the biggest overhauls of the city’s bus routes, timetables and fare structure in decades.
It is proposed to increase bus services by more than a third, in order to bring more frequent service closer to a larger number of people who will face shorter waiting times for buses traveling on a network. of simplified lines, with a simpler tariff structure to make exchanges transparent.
Passengers will not have to pay extra to change between bus, train or future light rail services over a 90-minute period.
Ciarán Meers, chairman of the Cork Commuter Coalition, an advocacy group that promotes public transport and sustainable mobility in the region, described the proposals as a positive set of changes that will transform the way Cork residents use public transport. .
Dr Darren McAdam O’Connell, coordinator of the Transport Mobility Forum in Cork, also welcomed the proposals and encouraged people to re-engage in the public consultation as the network is finalized.
“The more eyes and brains that look at this, the more likely it is to ensure that this is as good a network as possible,” he said.
The draft plan includes a revised scheme for intercity services through routes for the most frequent bus routes, replacing it with an east-west route from Ballincollig to Mahon Point, to encourage ridership on the indicative route of the city’s light rail system, connecting Hollyhill and Carrigaline with a north-south route.
“This would have the effect of lengthening some trips made on existing transit routes,” the report said.
“However, by increasing frequencies, the negative impacts on these routes may remain modest.
“It would also have the effect of shortening the journeys people currently make between east and west, or between north and south.”
Night service between Carrigaline and Ballincollig will continue from midnight to 5 a.m., with a Carrigaline service to Cork city center every 10 minutes, Monday through Saturday, and every 15 minutes on Sunday.
New services are planned for the metro area, including Blarney, Ballincollig, Glanmire, Carrigaline and Little Island.
The report says more routes would offer high frequency throughout the week, so interchange between them would require a reliable and short wait, with some routes scheduled to ‘pulse’ together, with coordinated arrivals and departures.
But those trade improvements depend on improvements in reliability, speed and technology, some of which are beyond the control of the NTA, the report says.
“Making it easier for passengers to trade in some high-traffic locations – such as Cork city center, Carrigaline city center, Blackpool, CUH and Douglas – will require more space for bus stops as well as reserved lanes. to buses and other priority measures, ”he says.
If implemented, the new network will allow the average resident to achieve 17% more jobs in an hour’s journey (including all waiting time) and 11% in a half-hour’s journey, which means large employment hubs like Little Island, Hollyhill, Mahon Point, the airport, Blackpool and the city would have access to more workers.
The number of teaching places that the average resident could reach in an hour’s journey (including waiting time) would increase by 10%.
NTA CEO Anne Graham said there had been a 50% growth in public transport use in Cork from 2013 to 2019, but there was still room for improvement, with only 5% of daily journeys in Cork by public transport – 74% by car.
“We are confident that this new network and the other changes introduced through BusConnects Cork will make public transport travel a convenient and sustainable option for more people across the city,” she said.
The overhaul of the bus network is one of the nine key elements of BusConnects Cork – the nearly € 200 million plan that aims to transform the city’s bus system, making public transport more useful to a greater number of persons.
BusConnects Cork’s infrastructure element, the delivery of over 100 km of bus tracks, is handled in a separate process.