The northside is being ignored in current proposals for a light rail system in Cork, according to Labour councillor John Maher, who said the least planners must do is ensure there are high frequency bus links to key connector points north of the Lee.
Last week, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and the National Transport Authority (NTA) announced that Jacobs Engineering Ireland had been awarded the contract to undertake a route options analysis and develop initial designs for the proposed Luas Light Rail Transit (LRT) from Ballincollig to Mahon Point in Cork.
The project is a key element in the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy, published by the NTA earlier this year.
The proposed Luas scheme will provide a high-capacity, high-frequency public transport link from the eastern to the western suburbs of Cork and will serve a large number of significant destinations including Ballincollig, the proposed Cork Science and Innovation Park (CSIP), Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), Cork University Hospital (CUH), University College Cork (UCC), Cork City Centre, Kent Station/Cork North Docklands, Cork South Docklands and Mahon.
“A proper light rail, if it is to be realised, would include the northside and southside but the current proposal ignores the northside,” Mr Maher said.
“The very least the NTA must do is ensure there are high frequency bus corridors for connector points from northside to southside stations to link in. Pricing and ticketing of such should be integrated, so for example you could board the bus in Mayfield or Glanmire, take the bus corridor to the station nearer and board the light rail without purchasing another ticket.
“Authorities in Dublin must remember there are two sides to the Lee. Both deserve high quality public transport.”
There was a welcome for the plans from the Green Party in Cork who said the proposals, together with rail improvements, have the potential to shift thousands from cars to reliable high-frequency public transport.
“This is the first step in the process and it is important to see it progress swiftly so that there’s confidence and clarity in where the route will align,” said Green Party councillor for Cork City North East, Oliver Moran.
“We will also need to safeguard the route for future development, probably first by initiating it as a dedicated high-frequency bus route,” he added.
Mr Moran said it was important for the Cork Luas route to match up with the proposed improvements to commuter rail in Cork.
“The wider commuter rail transport strategy envisions stations re-opening at Blarney and Blackpool and a new station at Tivoli, with passing loops required at Blarney and Blackpool so as not to impact the Dublin service. That will provide a North-East dimension as well, with Kent Station providing a local rail hub between commuter rail and tram lines. That has the potential to shift thousands from cars to reliable high-frequency public transport across the city with Park and Ride built in on the approaches to the city.”