Engineering teams have been hired to design a dozen core bus corridors (CBCs) and one orbital bus route in Cork city as part of one of the most radical overhauls of the city’s public transport system in decades.
And in a separate but linked move, public transport experts, Jarrett Walker & Associates, are set to review the city’s existing bus services — with a focus on how many buses operate where, when and how often - and to design an improved network.
The same company was appointed in 2017 to review Dublin’s bus network, with its recommendations set to be implemented this year.
The announcements by the National Transport Authority (NTA) today are part of its ongoing work to deliver key recommendations in the landmark Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Study which was published last March.
The ambitious €3.5bn transport plan provides a detailed framework for the planning and delivery of transport infrastructure and services in the Cork metropolitan area over the next two decades.
While a €1bn 17km east-west Luas-style tram linking Ballincollig to Mahon is one of the big-ticket items in CMATS, transport chiefs said the city’s bus system will be the “workhorse” of the city’s future public transport network - with some €545m earmarked for investment in a BusConnects programme to deliver a 700% increase in bus lanes, from 14km today up to 100km.
Today’s announcement on the CBC design teams and on the review of the city’s bus network is a major step in the delivery of BusConnects, a spokesman for the NTA said.
“It is a priority of the NTA to futureproof the public transport network of Cork City to meet rapidly growing demand. The review and redesign of the city’s bus network will create an efficient network that will allow more people to gain quick access to more places in the city,” he said.
While one firm will review how the network works, four engineering firms have been appointed to develop “concept engineering designs” for 12 CBCs and for one major orbital route to support the efficient running of the city’s bus services.
“They will also include the provision for bus priority and safe cycle and pedestrian facilities,” the spokesman said.
Cork has been split into four ‘work packages’ for the CBC route options work after which extensive public consultation has been promised - possibly in the second half of the year.
WSP, which has worked on several bus rapid transit projects in Bristol, Leeds, Birmingham and Cambridge, and on the Metropolitan Area Express bus system in Las Vegas, has been appointed to work on develop CBCs from east of Mayfield to the city via Montenotte, from Ballyvolane to the city via Montenotte, from north of Dublin Hill to the city via Blackpool and from Hollyhill/Apple computers campus to the city via Shandon.
Arup has been appointed to examine CBC routes from west of Ballincollig to the city centre via the Mardyke, from west of Bishopstown to the city, from Wilton to the city, and from Cork Airport to the city via Turners Cross.
Barry Transportation will examine CBC routes from Dunkettle to the city via Tivoli and Kent Station, from south of Douglas along the N28 to the city, via Douglas, from Jacobs Island to the city via Ballinlough, and from Mahon to the city via Ballintemple.
And AECOM has been appointed to develop an orbital bus corridor which would run from Cork University Hospital (CUH) via the Western Road to Hollyhill, Blackpool, Mayfield, through the Jack Lynch Tunnel, and on to Mahon Point, Douglas village and the Black Ash park and ride site, before returning to CUH.
The NTA had been asked to consider opening an office in Cork to drive delivery of CMATS, but it said in addition to its own resources, it is also “enabling the recruitment of additional staff” within the city council to support the BusConnects Cork programme.
“The related appointments will be made in the coming weeks,” the spokesman said.