The National Transport Authority (NTA) is to seek the views of members of the public on a new bus transport system for the greater Cork area as a first step towards achieving a fourfold increase in the numbers using public transport over the next 20 years.
NTA chief executive Anne Graham launched the Cork Bus Network Redesign Choices report on Thursday with an appeal to the public to engage in a consultation process aimed at deciding on bus routes, bus frequencies and bus timetables to serve people in the Cork Metropolitan Area (CMA).
Ms Graham said the CMA, which extends from Midleton in the east to Ballincollig in the west, Watergrasshill in the north and Carrigaline and Ringaskiddy in the south, currently has a population of 305,000 who make 820,000 journeys each day over a 24-hour period.
However, she pointed out that the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) 2040 found that public transport in the CMA currently only accounts for 5 per cent of these journeys, while walking accounts for 20 per cent and 74 per cent are undertaken in private cars.
Ms Graham said that the National Planning Framework 2040 envisages population growth of 50-60 per cent within the CMA over the next 20 years, so the transport strategy seeks to ensure the transport network can support the anticipated population, employment and education growth.
“With the city set to grow by up to 60 per cent in the next 20 years, we need to design a bus network that improves access to sustainable public transport options. The publication of the Choices report offers the opportunity to reshape the bus network around the future needs of a vibrant city and its people,” said Ms Graham at the virtual launch of the Choices report.
“Today’s report is the first step in moving towards a modern, inclusive and sustainable public transport network that services more people, combats congestion and provides a viable alternative to private cars,” she added.
The report has been prepared by US-based Jarrett Walker & Associates. Michelle Poyourow, principal associate and project manager with the firm, said while the Cork bus network has grown to 32 routes, there was great variation in the level of service and frequencies.
“With Cork’s expected population growth and plans to develop more sustainably, it is time to re-evaluate the design of the Cork area bus network and invest in its success,” said Ms Poyourow, who urged Corkonians to participate in the consultation on what type of bus network they want for Cork.
“Over the next three weeks, we want to hear people’s priorities for bus services, and how the network could be changed. Understanding how people in the Cork Metropolitan Area view possible changes to their bus system will help us design the draft new network.”
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said that Cork was already showing leadership in terms of pedestrianisation of much of the city centre, and he believed that the new BusConnects Cork will have a similarly transformative effect on life on Leeside.
“BusConnects Cork will transform the area’s bus network and make public transport a more convenient and sustainable option. This new network, along with the planned bus corridors, cycle lanes and a zero-emission bus fleet, will help connect the city’s communities and ease congestion.
"By providing an efficient and reliable bus service, we can reduce the reliance on private cars and support a widespread transition to public transport which will ultimately cut our transport-related emissions," said Mr Ryan.
To read the Choices report and to take part in the consultation process, which runs until July 21st, please visit busconnects.ie/busconnects-cork/.