26 November 2023
By Tom Collins
The MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme – which brings about a significant redrawing of traffic management priorities in the city centre was officially opened this week by Tánaiste Micheál Martin T.D. and Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy.
The project is aimed at improving the reliability and journey times of bus services in the city and providing improved walking and cycling infrastructure along the city quays and at key streets and junctions. The scheme, which began in January 2022, will make public transport, walking and cycling more attractive for people living in, working in and visiting the city centre – thereby supporting healthy living and economic activity.
Funded by the National Transport Authority (NTA), the works included major public realm investment, with over 12,530 square metres of public realm and upgraded pathways, new public lighting, seating, street furniture as well as a substantial programme of tree and shrub planting. There has been 1 kilometre of new cycle lanes installed, providing connectivity to the wider cycle network from Shandon Street to the Marina via dedicated cycling facilities, as well as upgrades to 17 signalised traffic junctions and pedestrian crossings,12 new bus stops, 5 of these with shelters, and over 30,360 metres of resurfaced roadway across the scheme.
The project area encompassed several of the streets and quays in the area surrounding MacCurtain Street, delivering cycling and pedestrian connectivity improvements, road resurfacing and signalised junction upgrades which have facilitated traffic management changes along Anderson’s Quay, Camden Quay, Penrose Quay, Merchant’s Quay, St. Patrick’s Quay including Christy Ring Bridge, Lavitt’s Quay, Mulgrave Road, Devonshire Street and Cathedral Walk, culminating with the restoration of two way traffic on MacCurtain Street, with transformative public realm works there and in the adjoining Bridge Street and Coburg Street areas.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Kieran McCarthy said: “MacCurtain Street and its surrounding neighbourhoods are steeped in a rich history, heritage and memory and today we are writing another chapter. The opening of this Cork City Council project is an important piece of an evolving story about how we live, work and recreate in a growing Cork City. MacCurtain Street is now an important exemplar of a vibrant, diverse, sustainable, green quarter with buses, pedestrians and cyclists making their way in and out of the city, safely and timely. The deeply ingrained sense of pride of place in this community, amongst businesses and residents alike, in conjunction with a co-creation mindset with the City Council has been integral to the vision and reality of this project. Such a co-creation model will also continue to serve the city’s evolution into its exciting future.”
Tánaiste Micheál Martin T.D. said: ““Cities are for our people, our streets are places where people can meet to connect and enjoy the unique atmosphere that areas like MacCurtain Street have to offer. The improvements in the public spaces delivered under the MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme will benefit this city and the people of Cork for generations to come. An inviting, attractive public space inevitably fosters a sense of community, economic development, health and wellbeing, bringing the city to life.”
Chief Executive of Cork City Council, Ann Doherty said: “Our city is changing with our city population projected to increase by 50% by 2040. To accommodate this growth, the improvement of our public transport network is not just vital, it is imperative if our city is to function well and prosper. This project is a key element of this. Cork City Council is grateful for the support and patience of residents, businesses and the wider public who backed this scheme and share Cork City Council’s vision for a city grounded in sustainability. We are also encouraging the wider public to avail of the enhanced bus service if they are travelling to the city centre for work or school or for Christmas shopping or socialising”.
Anne Graham, Chief Executive Officer of the National Transport Authority said: “The National Transport Authority is delighted to support this strategically important project for Cork City. These enhancements to MacCurtain Street and surrounding areas will provide improved access to the city centre through the provision of better walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure. The delivery of this scheme will encourage more people to consider sustainable travel, reduce unnecessary car journeys and help to ease traffic congestion which is one the key objectives of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy.”
Changes to bus routes
A key component of the MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme is improved bus infrastructure and changes to several Cork City bus routes.
From 26 November 2023, new 24 hour bus lanes will be in operation on MacCurtain Street, Coburg Street, Bridge Street and Cathedral Walk. This will improve bus journey times and allow for two-way bus movements on these streets, making it easier to access local schools and businesses by bus.
New Bus Routes for the 207, 207A, 208 and 209
The southbound routes will travel from Summerhill North and turn right onto MacCurtain Street and stop at the new westbound bus stop opposite York Street.
They will continue westbound on MacCurtain Street and then turn left onto the new contraflow bus lane on Bridge Street, stopping at the new bus stop on Bridge Street.
They will then continue onto St. Patrick’s Bridge and then onto St. Patrick’s Street.
The right turn from Summerhill North onto MacCurtain Street will be for busses only. There will be no right turn for motorists from Summerhill North onto MacCurtain Street.
The northbound buses will travel from St. Patrick’s Street onto St. Patrick’s Bridge then onto Bridge Street and stop at the new bus stop on Bridge Street.
They will continue onto MacCurtain Street and travel eastbound to the new stop on MacCurtain Street beside York Street.
As before the 207, 207A, 208 and 209 will continue onto Summerhill North, the 214 onto the Lower Glanmire Road, and the 205 and 212 onto Alfred Street.
New Bus Routes for the 203, 215 and 248:
The southbound routes for the 203, 215 and 248 will travel from the N20 to Leitrim Street and onto the new sheltered bus stop on Coburg Street.
They will then turn right onto Bridge Street, continue onto St Patrick’s Bridge and then onto St Patrick’s Street for the 203 and 215 and the Bus Station for the 248.
The northbound routes will travel from St Patrick’s Bridge, onto Bridge Street, turn left onto Coburg Street.
The bus will continue onto Devonshire Street turn right onto the N20.
A new contraflow bus lane has been provided on Cathedral Walk to facilitate access for the 203 and 215 to Watercourse Road.