New locations to facilitate an expansion of Cork city’s hugely successful public bike scheme will be identified early this year, the National Transport Authority has confirmed.
But the authority says the scheme is unlikely to extend west of the Wilton Road corridor in the western suburbs or south of the M40 South Ring Road — a decision that would exclude Douglas, the CIT campus, and Ballincollig.
It is expected that details will be included when the authority publishes the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Plan for public consultation.
The news was revealed in a response to a parliamentary question from Labour TD Sean Sherlock.
The city’s Coca-Cola Zero bike share scheme was launched in 2014 alongside similar schemes in Limerick and Galway.
It is one of the most successful in the country, with more than double the combined total of subscribers to the Limerick and Galway schemes, notching up its one millionth passenger journey late last year.
Today, it has 330 bikes located at 32 bike stations in a mostly east-west corridor through the city centre.
Its most western stations are at UCC and Fitzgerald’s Park, with the most easterly at Kent railway station.
Two bike stations were opened there last November in response to demand from rail commuters who wanted to use the bikes for onward journeys to the city centre.
Just before Christmas, the NTA confirmed to the Irish Examiner that it was giving “active consideration” to expanding the scheme.
Now, NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Cregan has confirmed that the NTA and Cork City Council held meetings last year to discuss it, which included site visits to identify potential new bike stations.
He said: “It is likely that the operating costs associated with the expanded scheme will require additional sources of revenue, in order to maintain an attractive pricing structure for users of the bike scheme.
“Options being considered include an advertising scheme using on-street advertisement/information panels; adjustments to the fee structure for members; and a revised sponsorship tender package.
“However, as is the case in most other municipal bike share schemes, a relatively small contribution from the local authority to the scheme’s running costs cannot be ruled out.”
Labour Party representative on Cork’s southside, Peter Horgan, who has urged the authority to include Blackrock and Mahon in the extension, welcomed news that more bike stations are planned, but he said he was concerned that Douglas may not be included.
“A Douglas bike hub would link seamlessly with Blackrock and further into the city centre,” he said.
“Contact to the NTA to show the need for these locations will be vital and I will continue to push for their inclusion.
“I am contacting businesses and local organisations to encourage them to make their views known to the NTA on this crucial transport matter for Cork.”