Cork Luas to have 25 stops and carry 46 million passengers per year; City Hall director says it will happen

Cork Luas to have 25 stops and carry 46 million passengers per year; City Hall director says it will happen
Image showing a planned LUAS for Cork sharing the old Blackrock railway line greenway.

CITY Hall's director of planning has urged the National Transport Authority to set up an office on Leeside to oversee an ambitious 20-year project to transform the city's public transport system.

The Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) includes significant investment in roads, rail, cycling and walking infrastructure, culminating in a light rail system that is expected to be completed by 2040. 

The Luas-style project involves a 25-stop, 17km light rail network running from the N22 west of Ballincollig all the way to Mahon.

It’s estimated it could carry 46 million people per year on 27 trams. 

The €1bn plan is the first real blueprint of an idea that has been mooted since the 1990s. 

However, it has been dismissed in some quarters as being too costly and not realistic to deliver before 2040.

The plan is expected to be adopted early in 2020 by the NTA and both Cork councils.

Cork City Council’s head of strategic and economic development Fearghal Reidy told The Echo he is confident it will happen.

Fearghal Reidy, Cork City Council. 
Fearghal Reidy, Cork City Council. 

“There is the €200 million Bus Connects project, the €3.5 billion CMATS project and I have faith it will happen. However, for it to happen it needs local insight and local expertise. 

"It needs people on the ground working with local communities and we need difficult decisions to be made. 

"To do that, you need a local office working within the city council, or in partnership with it.

“The first thing we need to do is identify the routes because we need that to do the City Development Plan and look at where the density will be.

“I think the overall plan will happen over the period of the plan.

“All plans come into difficulties in terms of reaching milestones that might hold it up but that doesn’t mean that other elements can’t move on. It’s all subject to funding.

“In Cork, it seems to be a case in public transport of ‘build it and they will come’. The 24-hour 220 bus has been relatively successful, there is about a 15% increase in the use of public transport.

“In 2016 according to surveys we carried out, a small minority of people wanted more public transport. In 2019, more people now want more public transport so there is an appetite among Corkonians.

“We can prove a point in terms of investment if the exchequer will listen to it,” Mr Reidy added.

Chair of Cork City Council’s economic development and planning strategic policy committee Seán Martin said the transport plan will inevitably hit bumps in the road over the next 20 years.

“It’s about funding and you need to have a fall-back position if there is a recession and there will be another recession or two in the lifetime of the plan.

“We shouldn’t set the goals too high. I remember we were talking about development in the docklands 15 years ago and we were questioning the concept of 10,000 people living down there. Then we had the recession.

“We need to take small steps and progress it on the condition the economy is growing.

“I think we need to pick low hanging fruit first and move on. A problem we have is the major financial institutions are nationally based.

“The ability of local authorities across the country, bar Dublin is very limited in terms of what they can do on their own,” he added.

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