7 April 2023
By Tom Collins
The National Transport Authority (NTA) recently launched the second round of public consultation on the Sustainable Transport Corridors earmarked for development as part of the BusConnects Cork programme.
The latest round of public consultation centres on the Preferred Route Options which have been identified. This comes following the first round of public consultation on the Emerging Preferred Routes between June and October 2022.
BusConnects Cork is a €600m programme of work that aims to transform the city’s bus system, making public transport more accessible to more people. By delivering approximately 91kms of new bus lanes and bus priority and 96km of cycle facilities (one direction) delivering 48km of the cycle network, BusConnects Cork will make travel by bus, as well as active travel, a viable option while also reducing carbon emissions and congestion.
Following the first round of public consultation, the NTA has been reviewing the almost 3,000 submissions made by the public and engaging constructively with 35 residents’ , business and special interest groups across the city. Community Forums were also established for each corridor to enable a two-way dialogue with local communities to help inform the review process.
This extensive engagement process has resulted in a number of revisions to the Sustainable Transport Corridors (STCs). Among the changes are:
- STC A – Dunkettle to City: The extent of the BusConnects scheme has been reduced, with the section between Dunkettle Roundabout and the Millennium Gardens to be separately developed by Cork City Council.
- STC B – Mayfield to City: Revised traffic arrangements are proposed to operate during peak hours only at Ballyhooly Road / Glen Avenue junction, restricting through traffic movement at these times and reducing traffic congestion on this radial corridor. This arrangement enables the removal of the previously proposed bus lane on Summerhill North.
- STC C – Blackpool to City: Spring Lane to be closed to traffic at Railway Bridge except for pedestrians and cyclists.
- STC D – Hollyhill to City: The extent of bus lanes along Harbour View Road has been reduced, significantly decreasing overall property impacts. The previously proposed bus gate on Cathedral Road is no longer included.
- STC E – Ballincollig to City: The bus gate previously proposed in Ballincollig Town Centre is no longer part of the scheme and additional on-street car parking spaces have been included. Various changes along this corridor, including proposed peak hours bus gates on Model Farm Road, have reduced the number of impacted properties.
- STC F – Bishopstown to City: Cycle facilities along Glasheen Road, Cottage Mews and Schoolboy’s Lane replace the previously proposed route through Presentation College grounds.
- STC G – Togher to City: The Pearse Road section of this corridor has been removed. Along Pouladuff Road, an inbound bus gate will operate in AM peak hours only, removing the need for the previously proposed bus lanes, thereby reducing impacts on properties and parking.
- STC H – Airport Road to City: It is now proposed to direct cyclists from Curragh Road to Evergreen Road via a quiet street treatment on O’Connell Avenue. Replacement off-street car parking on Evergreen Road is also proposed.
- STC I – Maryborough Hill to City: An outbound bus lane is no longer proposed on Douglas Road. To provide bus priority, a bus gate is proposed just east of the entrance to St Finbarr’s Hospital, operating during peak hours only.
- STC J – Mahon to City: On Churchyard Lane and Boreenmanna Road, the amount of bus lanes proposed have been reduced, retaining the majority of trees and reducing property impacts. Additional off-street parking is proposed.
- STC K – Kinsale Road to Douglas: A proposed bridge over the Mangala Valley and the Well Road Cycle Route are not included in the revised BusConnects proposals.
- STC L – Sunday’s Well to Hollyhill: Sunday’s Well to Hollyhill STC is no longer being progressed as an individual scheme, with sections of the corridor being incorporated into adjacent schemes.
The NTA, in collaboration with Cork City Council, is proposing a number of enhancements to urban spaces along the Sustainable Transport Corridors including:
- STC B – Mayfield to City: Public realm improvements for Dillon’s Cross and St Luke’s Cross
- STC C – Blackpool to City: Public realm works including improved and enhanced street spaces and landscaping at Blackpool village.
- STC I – Maryborough Hill to City: Village improvement works in Douglas Village such as placemaking, landscaping, and mobility improvements.
The proposed Sustainable Transport Corridors, of which there are now 11, are fundamental to realising the ambition of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy, developed in connection with Cork City Council and Cork County Council, to increase the number of people using public transport in Cork fourfold by 2040 and expand the numbers cycling and walking by 33%.
Consultation on the revised proposal will run until Thursday 25 May 2023. A series of information events will be hosted across Cork in April. All submissions in the second round of public consultation will be reviewed by the NTA with plans refined accordingly. Technical, environmental, and transport impact assessment work will then take place with final plans due to be presented to An Bord Pleanála for statutory approval.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “BusConnects Cork is central to Government plans to make it easier and more attractive to travel by bus as well as to cycle and walk around Cork city. The publication of the Preferred Route Options is an important milestone in helping to rollout Sustainable Transport Corridors across the city which can make that vision a reality.
“It’s vital that commuters and communities continue to have their say on the proposals. These views will help the NTA and Cork City Council in finalising the Sustainable Transport Corridors and ensure that Cork has the public transport infrastructure to support a growing city.”
Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA said: “…I would encourage the public to share their views on the Preferred Route Options in the coming weeks. The NTA will also continue our two-way dialogue with community groups and public representatives in the weeks ahead. Your views will help to shape the final proposals and play a key role in creating a more sustainable future for communities across Cork city.”
Ann Doherty, Chief Executive of Cork City Council said: “Cork City Council is focused on creating a more sustainable city that is prepared for the future. However, we must make public transport and active travel an option for more people in more places across the city…. I am confident that this project will unlock new opportunities to change how we travel and will also renew the city. We look forward to continuing our work with the NTA to bring the project forward.”
For more information on the BusConnects Cork and the Sustainable Transport Corridors Project, visit: https://busconnects.ie/cork/