Bus services in Cork to increase by over a third under new network plan

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Consultation on the draft of a new bus network has commenced in Cork, where a new network is being rolled out from 2023

Ireland’s National Transport Authority (NTA) has published its draft new bus network for Cork. The redesign of the network is one of the nine key elements of BusConnects Cork that aims to transform the city’s bus system and make public transport more useful to more people.
Under the proposals contained in the new draft network report, the level of bus services in Cork will increase by 36% with shorter waits and more direct routes for commuters within the city promised. The proposals will also result in more residents of the city and areas within the Cork Metropolitan Area having access to the public transport network, which it says will provide a more coherently planned, higher capacity, more understandable network for those within the Cork Metropolitan Area while paving the way for the future introduction of Luas light rail within the city.

Services will be organised around high frequency routes within the city centre with route branches extending out to other areas of the city. Additional weekend services will also be provided, and fares will be simplified to allow passengers to transfer between bus, rail or future Luas services within a 90-minute period.

The new network report has been prepared by Jarrett Walker & Associates, a US based firm which specialises in designing metropolitan public transport systems, in collaboration with Bus Éireann, Cork City Council and Cork County Council. It follows on from the publication of the Choices Report in July which set out the transport choices that could be used to structure the redesign of the bus network in Cork and the follow-on public consultation. Close to 1,200 responses were received as part of the first round of consultation.
Irish Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan said: “This is a milestone for the BusConnects project which will make Cork a cleaner, greener and more liveable city. BusConnects in Cork will mean increased services and frequency making it easier for everyone to choose public transport to get around – be it to school, work or anywhere else. Delivering this project will mean that Cork will have a more efficient and frequent service that people can really rely on to cater for their transport needs.”

Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, added: “Cork is a growing city. This brings with it an increasing demand for public transport. Through significant investment over recent years, we’ve seen a 50% growth in public transport usage from 2013 to 2019. However, there is potential to enhance services ever future. That’s why over the past four months, the NTA has been engaging with the people of Cork in shaping a new bus network that meets their future needs. Their responses have helped to inform the draft new bus network which we’re publishing today as part of BusConnects Cork. The proposed network will bring vital improvements to how the bus system is organised. It will see a significant increase in bus services within the Cork Metropolitan Area as well as creating new connections to schools, jobs and public services. A simpler network and fare structure will make it easier to get around Cork using public transport.

“We’re confident this new network along with the other changes being introduced through BusConnects Cork will make travelling on public transport a convenient and sustainable option for more people across the city. We want to hear views on the new network that has been proposed. By taking part in the online consultation process, we can ensure the final network design can support the increase in the number of people using public transport in Cork.”

Stephen Kent, CEO of the Bus Éireann, said: “We are enthusiastic and excited about the transformation BusConnects means for everyone living, working, studying and socialising in Cork, for the Cork economy and environment. Thinking ‘bus’ instead of ‘car’ positively impacts on quality of life for everyone in Cork, with less congestion, shorter travel times and a new zero/low-emission fleet to fulfil our climate action commitments. Bus Éireann’s experience is that increased frequency of services in Cork quickly results in much greater passenger numbers. The new proposed BusConnects network will dramatically change the public transport experience in Cork and bus services can be enhanced comparatively quickly. We look forward to working with the NTA to facilitate and deliver this new future for public transport over the next two years.”

Michelle Poyourow, Jarrett Walker & Associates commented: “Over the course of the summer, we heard from the people of Cork about their priorities for bus services and how the network could be altered. The close to 1,200 responses received have helped to shape the draft network being presented in today’s report. By simplifying the network and schedules and ensuring shorter waits and more direct routes, we can connect more people across the Cork Metropolitan Area.”

34% more people will live close to a frequent service under the proposals made in the Draft Network Report. KARL OAKLEY