DESCRIBED as a “once-in-a-lifetime change of public transport in Cork”, the first round of public consultation on the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) proposals to deliver 12 new sustainable transport corridors as part of the BusConnects Cork project commenced yesterday.
The plans include approximately 93km of bus lane/bus priority and 112km of cycle facilities across the city.
It marks an investment of more than €500m by the NTA as it aims to significantly improve bus journey times and increase the number of people walking and cycling into the city.
However, the development of these new corridors will bring challenges, most notably the potential acquisition of land.
“These are long corridors and in order to provide the space for cycling and bus priority in places, we are going to have to widen out slightly into the adjacent properties either side.
“In those cases what we’re looking at is the possibility of acquiring a small piece of people’s front garden, there will be compensation paid and an arrangement put in place to reinstate the remainder of the garden,” said NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan at a press briefing on the proposals.
“At this stage, we have notified everyone that we think might be affected, but we’re very conscious that as the design evolves a lesser number of people may ultimately be impacted.
“At the moment we’ve identified that approximately 993 properties could be impacted but we know from this type of work before that as the design evolves that number will reduce so we don’t know yet what the final number will be, but that gives an indication.”
The 12 proposed sustainable transport corridors are: Dunkettle to city; Mayfield to city; Blackpool to city; Hollyhill to city; Ballincollig to city; Bishopstown to city; Togher to city; Airport Rd to city; Maryborough Hill to city; Mahon to city; Kinsale Rd to Douglas; Sunday’s Well to Hollyhill.
A series of public information events on the proposals are set to take place in July, along with the establishment of community forums.
Membership of each forum will comprise of two representatives from resident and community associations, disability and special interest groups and business organisations on the corridors, along with local public representatives.
Speaking at the briefing yesterday, NTA chief executive Anne Graham encouraged people to have their say on the proposals. “In doing so, you will be helping to shape the future of the bus and cycle network across the Cork metropolitan area,” she said.
This was echoed by the chief executive of Cork City Council, Ann Doherty. “We need everyone to get involved, have their say, get their input in, because that will impact the final design which obviously we want to be the best it can be for Cork and the people who live here,” she said.
Following the launch of the public consultation, Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said the proposals “will take a lot of time to digest” but that “an important message from today is that residents will have lots of time and opportunity for input”.
“This is just the first of at least three rounds of consultation before any work will begin, and that will be 2025 at the earliest.
“The NTA were keen to acknowledge that the plan hasn’t yet had the benefit of local input. They want a dialog now to refine the plan.
“It will be important for residents groups to make sure they take their seats at the community forums that are being set up to help deliver that local knowledge,” he continued.
Labour Party local area rep Peter Horgan said the proposals need significant and extensive community engagement and that attendance at the community forums should not be limited. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime change of public transport in Cork,” he said.
“We have to get it right and everyone must be heard on it. Some of the proposals are significantly altering and deserve scrutiny by the public.”
Sinn Féin councillor Mick Nugent said there is a “considerable amount of properties that could be affected” and encouraged people to have their say on the proposals.