Bus Éireann is looking for a new bus depot in Cork city amid capacity issues at its historic Capwell site.
The company has declined to comment on whether it has identified a specific location on Monahan Road in the city's south docks area but has confirmed that it will retain the Capwell depot. Capwell, on Summerhill South, has been used for decades as a bus storage, vehicle maintenance and cleaning depot.
But with a €200m investment in a Cork BusConnects planned over the next decade, including the additional of up to 200 new buses, a new depot is badly needed: "Due to capacity constraint in our bus depot in Capwell, Bus Éireann have been exploring a number of additional locations in Cork city. Any move to a new site would be in addition to the existing depot in Capwell."
Bus services in the wider metropolitan Cork region have been reconfigured significantly over the last six years, with a 30% increase in the fleet and 50% increase in driver numbers.
The reconfiguration has included a vast expansion of the city bus network in line with the city boundary extension, the redesign of several routes and frequency improvements. It has also included the introduction of the country's first 24-hour bus service, the 220 linking Ballincollig to Carrigaline, with buses every 15-minutes at peak times.
And the travelling public has responded with annual growth in journey figures — from 10m passenger trips on city services in 2013 to around 16m last year. The 220 service saw a record-breaking 1.3m customer journeys last year — a 70% growth on the route, with Leap card usage grown to more than 63% on all trips in Cork city.
Some €200m is earmarked under the National Development Plan for a massive BusConnects scheme proposed under the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Plan (CMATS).
The ambitious CMATS proposes around 220 new double-decker buses, 200km cross-city bus routes, 50km orbital routes and 150km radial routes to link in with new suburban rail routes.
But the Capwell depot near city-centre location, bounded by homes and two schools, makes expansion here difficult. The depot is on the site of the former railway station terminus of the Cork-Macroom rail line. The landmark red-brick station building closed in March 1925 and was acquired by the Irish Omnibus Company four years later. It has been used by Bus Éireann as office space for decades.
It is listed on the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as of regional architectural, historical and social interest. The last regular passenger train operated on the line in 1935 before it closed to goods traffic in 1953. The line was officially closed in 1960.