'Like the Luas on wheels': Call for a rapid bus system to tackle Cork city gridlock

As of November, just over €1,461,632 had been spent on costs associated with the Cork Luas project, which commenced in October 2020
'Like the Luas on wheels': Call for a rapid bus system to tackle Cork city gridlock

BRT systems are generally of a higher standard than conventional bus systems in that they offer increased reliability in relation to punctuality and journey times, as well as providing higher passenger capacity.

A CALL has been made for a bus rapid transit (BRT) system to be rolled out in Cork as an interim solution to alleviate traffic gridlock before the Cork Luas project is delivered.

BRT systems are generally of a higher standard than conventional bus systems in that they offer increased reliability in relation to punctuality and journey times, as well as providing higher passenger capacity.

General secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union, Dermot O’Leary, said: “It’s a system that’s very like the Luas, but it’s on wheels, which has its own dedicated road space and that could eventually be supplanted by a Luas system.

“But in the short-to-medium term, I think that system from east to west is something that should be put in place.”

As of November 28, 2022, just over €1,461,632 had been spent on costs associated with the Cork Luas project, which commenced in October 2020.

Mr O’Leary said that, “generally speaking”, BRT is “about a third of the cost of light rail” and could be delivered in a shorter timeframe than the Cork Luas project.

“I believe if the political willingness was there around BRT to create the road space, the infrastructure for a BRT, you could deliver a BRT within a year and a half to two years,” he said.

“It would make a huge difference to people living in Cork.”

Dermot O'Leary, General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail union (NBRU). Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Dermot O'Leary, General Secretary of the National Bus and Rail union (NBRU). Photo: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The new Luas will run from Ballincollig, on the western outskirts of the city, to Mahon Point in the east, but the emerging preferred route has yet to be announced.

FREE BUS TRAVEL MOTION

Mr O’Leary made his comments following news that Cork City Council is to write to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan requesting a pilot initiative of free bus travel to be rolled out in the city after a motion proposed by Workers’ Party councillor Ted Tynan was agreed upon by city councillors.

Speaking to The Echo about the motion, Mr O’Leary said he welcomed the idea of free bus travel, but that enabling buses to move more freely around the city should first be tackled.

“There’s a difficulty around gridlock, so unless you deal with that first and allow buses to move freely around the city and the adjoining areas, you’re going to have a problem getting people onto buses,” he said.

“People won’t travel on buses if the bus doesn’t deliver them to their place of employment or their school or college in time.

“That’s not the fault of the bus, that’s the fault of the gridlock.”

Mr O’Leary said the NBRU has made multiple submissions over the years to previous governments and the current Government, suggesting that BRT should be considered for the regional cities.

A spokesperson for the National Transport Authority told The Echo that a BRT system for Cork “was considered” and is referenced in the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS).

“Following detailed analysis of projected travel demand within the Cork Metropolitan Area, this strategy has determined that the East-West Transit Corridor is best served through the provision of a new Light Rail Transit (LRT) tram system,” CMATS states.

“This analysis marks a departure from previous proposals for a lower capacity Bus Rapid Transport system to reflect the more ambitious growth targets of the National Planning Framework and the requirement to future-proof such a route up to and beyond the 2040 horizon year.”

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