12 March 2023
By Elaine Murphy
The Green Party in Cork have welcomed confirmation of the expected start dates for new public transport services in the city, set for 2024.
As part of the wider BusConnects Cork programme, a new bus network has been agreed for the city, increasing the number of bus services by 53%. These will include two 24-hour services between Ballincollig and Mahon, and Hollyhill to Carrigaline. Seven of the new routes will be high-frequency, with services running every 15 minutes or better. The new network will include provision of bus services to areas previously unserved by public transport, such as Upper Glanmire, Kilcully, Waterfall and Kerry Pike.
In a statement issued to Green Party councillor, Oliver Moran, the National Transport Authority (NTA) confirmed that a project team has been established to progress the rollout of the new routes in three phases beginning in 2024:
“Implementing a complete change to a city’s bus network is a major undertaking. It is particularly so in the case of a city where the level of service is planned to increase by about half over existing levels. Such change requires additional bus fleet, additional drivers, additional maintenance and supervisory personnel, plus addition depot space. The existing bus depot at Capwell cannot accommodate the increased fleet numbers, so we need to source and secure a second depot. In addition to the above, we are committed to only purchasing electric buses for urban services, which requires major depot changes and the installation of charging equipment, further reducing depot capacity.
“This level of change also requires a major amount of planning work – detailed timetabling and scheduling which will take months to complete for the overall network, new bus stops to be installed, infrastructure developments such as bus turning areas or bus laybys, and micro-planning to manage the transition phase when parts of the existing network will be in place along alongside parts of the new network.”
Welcoming confirmation that the first phase of new services will begin next year, Cllr Moran said:
“This is particularly good news for areas that were previously underserved by public transport. Two of the new routes, to Upper Glanmire and Kilcully, are likely to be in the first phase of the rollout. I know from residents living in those areas, those buses cannot come soon enough. I’m also engaging with the NTA about the potential to include Mayfield and Glanmire to MTU among the 24 hour services.
“Increased frequency and coverage is one part of the jigsaw to transforming public transport in the city. Two other major pieces are the reliability of public transport and bringing down the fares. New fare structures will be part of the new services too, with a single 90-minute fare allowing transfer between services on top of the 20% reduction in fares already brought in by Eamon Ryan. The reliability of services will depend on the outcome of the consultations that are on-going with residents about public transport priority measures. The next iteration of those plans is expected now at the end of March or early April.”