The National Transport Authority (NTA) says a 60% boost in journey figures on Ireland’s first 24-hour city bus service proves that commuters will use buses more if the service runs when and where they need it.
But the agency charged with developing the country’s public transport network could not say when its long-awaited Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Study (CMATS) - a blueprint for the development of the region’s wider public transport and bike lane network which was expected before Christmas - will be published.
It has identified key transport corridors across metropolitan Cork and will set out plans for more bus and bike lanes and more park and ride facilities.
It is also expected to set out how the delivery of continuous bus lanes along key corridors could pave the way for a Luas-style light rail system later once population densities on these corridors reach a certain level.
But its immediate focus is on bus and bike lanes, with some €200m in government committed to a BusConnects scheme for the region over the next 10-years.
It comes as Bus Eireann confirmed that it has seen 60% growth in customer journeys since the enhanced 220 bus service was launched in mid-January.
The service, which links Ballincollig to Carrigaline, via the city centre, has been operating 24-hours a day with weekday frequency doubled from a bus every 30-minutes to a bus every 15-minutes between 6am and midnight, with 30 and 60-minute frequency between midnight and 6am.
The service has been extended westwards to the Grange Manor housing estate in Ovens, with every second service operating to Crosshaven on the eastern side of the route.
The NTA’s chief executive officer, Anne Graham, said: “The response by the public to these changes has been very positive, and is a clear indication that when you provide a bus service that is innovative and that operates where and when it is needed, people will use it.”
Bus Eireann said more improvements are on the way in Cork, with 20 new double-deck buses, each with USB sockets and free Wi-Fi, due to be delivered to the fleet this year there are plans to increase frequency on buses in Carrigaline this summer and to run additional services to Cork Airport.
However, Sam McCormack, who is spearheading the Improve Public Transport in Cork Campaign, said the NTA and Bus Eireann should now focus on improving other bus routes.
“They have to remember that they have to improve not just the frequency, but also the level of service on all routes, to make the bus an option," he said.