CHANGES to Cork’s bus routes are to come into effect in a number of phases commencing next year, in what has been described as extremely good news for areas previously underserved by public transport.
In June, the National Transport Authority (NTA) launched its new design for the Cork Metropolitan bus network. The new network, part of the BusConnects Cork project, will involve the creation of new routes and improved bus frequencies delivering an overall increase of 53% in bus services in Cork.
It will include the provision of bus services to areas previously unserved by public transport, such as Upper Glanmire, Kilcully, Waterfall and Kerry Pike and a second 24-hour bus route in the city from Carrigaline to Hollyhill.
Seven of the new routes will be high-frequency, with services running every 15 minutes or better.
In a statement issued to Green Party councillor Oliver Moran, NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan confirmed that a project team has been established to progress the rollout of the new routes commencing in 2024.
“Current indications are that it will need to be implemented in a number of phases, probably three, but this could change,” he said.
Mr Creegan stressed that implementing a complete change to a city’s bus network is a “major undertaking”.
“It is particularly so in the case of a city where the level of service is planned to increase by about half over existing levels. Such change requires additional bus fleet, additional drivers, additional maintenance and supervisory personnel, plus additional depot space,” he said.
He added that the existing bus depot at Capwell “cannot accommodate the increased fleet numbers” and that the NTA must therefore source and secure a second depot.
“In addition, we are committed to only purchasing electric buses for urban services, which requires major depot changes and the installation of charging equipment, further reducing depot capacity."
Welcoming confirmation that the first phase of new services will begin next year, Mr Moran said it is “particularly good news” for areas that were previously underserved by public transport.
“Two of the new routes, to Upper Glanmire and Kilcully, are likely to be in the first phase of the rollout. I know from residents living in those areas, those buses cannot come soon enough. I’m also engaging with the NTA about the potential to include Mayfield and Glanmire to MTU among the 24-hour services,” he continued.
Mr Moran described the planned increased frequency and coverage as “one part of the jigsaw to transforming public transport in the city”.
“Two other major pieces are the reliability of public transport and bringing down the fares. New fare structures will be part of the new services too, with a single 90-minute fare allowing transfer between services on top of the 20% reduction in fares already brought in by Eamon Ryan.
“The reliability of services will depend on the outcome of the consultations that are ongoing with residents about public transport priority measures. The next iteration of those plans is expected now at the end of March or early April.”