The National Transport Authority has this morning said that it has made major changes to the planned Cork BusConnects Sustainable Transport Corridors (STCs) — the changes include removing the planned bus gate in Ballincollig Town Centre, removing sections of bus lanes and watering down other bus lanes to be peak-time only.
The National Transport Authority has already admitted that its plans for Irish cities are not in line with climate action targets, and this latest watering down of measures comes from scientists last week delivered what was called a ‘final warning’ on climate crisis with the message of “act now or it’s too late”.
While some routes are watered down, others are getting bus gates priority instead of bus lanes, which can be as good as or even a more effective solution. Some of the bus lane reduction is to avoid road widening or the removal of trees but it is not clear if the new plans will be sufficient to promote bus use or curtail car use.
BusConnects in Cork is planned to include 91kms of new bus lanes and bus priority and 96kms in cycling infrastructure. As with BusConnects Dublin, there has been a high level of opposition to many of the planned changes in Cork.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) proposed corridors, of which there are now 11, are “fundamental to realising the ambition of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy, developed in connection with Cork City Council and Cork County Council, to increase the number of people using public transport in Cork fourfold by 2040 and expand the numbers cycling and walking by 33%.”
The authority said that consultation on the revised proposals begins today and runs until Thursday, May 25, 2023. It includes a series of information events that will be hosted across Cork in April.
After the consultation is finished the submissions are to be reviewed and then technical, environmental, and transport impact assessment work will be progressed ahead of a submission to An Bord Pleanála for statutory approval.
The NTA said that its extensive engagement process has resulted in several revisions to the Sustainable Transport Corridors (STCs). It listed these changes as follows:
- STC A – Dunkettle to City: The extent of the BusConnects scheme has been reduced, with the section between Dunkettle Roundabout and the Millennium Gardens to be separately developed by Cork City Council.
- STC B – Mayfield to City: Revised traffic arrangements are proposed to operate during peak hours only at Ballyhooly Road / Glen Avenue junction, restricting through traffic movement at these times and reducing traffic congestion on this radial corridor. This arrangement enables the removal of the previously proposed bus lane on Summerhill North.
- STC C – Blackpool to City: Spring Lane to be closed to traffic at Railway Bridge except for pedestrians and cyclists.
- STC D – Hollyhill to City: The extent of bus lanes along Harbour View Road has been reduced, significantly decreasing overall property impacts. The previously proposed bus gate on Cathedral Road is no longer included.
- STC E – Ballincollig to City: The bus gate previously proposed in Ballincollig Town Centre is no longer part of the scheme and additional on-street car parking spaces have been included. Various changes along this corridor, including proposed peak hours bus gates on Model Farm Road, have reduced the number of impacted properties.
- STC F – Bishopstown to City: Cycle facilities along Glasheen Road, Cottage Mews and Schoolboy’s Lane replace the previously proposed route through Presentation College grounds.
- STC G – Togher to City: The Pearse Road section of this corridor has been removed. Along Pouladuff Road, an inbound bus gate will operate in AM peak hours only, removing the need for the previously proposed bus lanes, thereby reducing impacts on properties and parking.
- STC H – Airport Road to City: It is now proposed to direct cyclists from Curragh Road to Evergreen Road via a quiet street treatment on O’Connell Avenue. Replacement off-street car parking on Evergreen Road is also proposed.
- STC I – Maryborough Hill to City: An outbound bus lane is no longer proposed on Douglas Road. To provide bus priority, a bus gate is proposed just east of the entrance to St Finbarr’s Hospital, operating during peak hours only.
- STC J – Mahon to City: On Churchyard Lane and Boreenmanna Road, the amount of bus lanes proposed have been reduced, retaining the majority of trees and reducing property impacts. Additional off-street parking is proposed.
- STC K – Kinsale Road to Douglas: A proposed bridge over the Mangala Valley and the Well Road Cycle Route are not included in the revised BusConnects proposals.
- STC L – Sunday’s Well to Hollyhill: Sunday’s Well to Hollyhill STC is no longer being progressed as an individual scheme, with sections of the corridor being incorporated into adjacent schemes.
The NTA also said that, in collaboration with Cork City Council, is proposing the following enhancements to urban spaces along the Sustainable Transport Corridors:
- STC B – Mayfield to City: Public realm improvements for Dillon’s Cross and St Luke’s Cross
- STC C – Blackpool to City: Public realm works including improved and enhanced street spaces and landscaping at Blackpool village.
- STC I – Maryborough Hill to City: Village improvement works in Douglas Village such as placemaking, landscaping, and mobility improvements.
Further details can be found at busconnects.ie/cork.
Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, said: “BusConnects Cork is central to Government plans to make it easier and more attractive to travel by bus as well as to cycle and walk around Cork city.”
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“It’s vital that commuters and communities continue to have their say on the proposals. These views will help the NTA and Cork City Council in finalising the Sustainable Transport Corridors and ensure that Cork has the public transport infrastructure to support a growing city,” he said.
Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, said: “Last year, we first unveiled a €600m investment in BusConnects Cork, which included the creation of new Sustainable Transport Corridors to help meet the needs of a growing city while accelerating the journey to a net-zero future.”
She added: “Through direct engagement with communities across the city, we’ve been able to identify issues of concern along some of the Sustainable Transport Corridors. The amended proposals put forward today in collaboration with Cork City Council respond constructively to local issues and help to mitigate many of the challenges raised by local groups.”
Ann Doherty, Chief Executive of Cork City Council said: “Cork City Council is focused on creating a more sustainable city that is prepared for the future. However, we must make public transport and active travel an option for more people in more places across the city.”
“That is why Cork City Council has been working in partnership with the NTA in recent months on the BusConnects Cork Sustainable Transport Corridors. Today’s proposals seek to take on board the feedback from the recent public consultation. The people of Cork have the opportunity once again to have their say on the amended proposals,” she said.
She added: “I am confident that this project will unlock new opportunities to change how we travel and will also renew the city. We look forward to continuing our work with the NTA to bring the project forward.”