Explainer: Here's what the new Cork BusConnects plans might mean for where you live

With corridors planned to the Dunkettle, Mayfield, Blackpool, Hollyhill, Ballincollig, Wilton, Togher, Cork Airport, Maryborough, Mahon and Douglas, the plan will be transformative - and disruptive
Explainer: Here's what the new Cork BusConnects plans might mean for where you live

The 12 proposed Sustainable Transport Corridors, with bus, cycling and pedestrian facilities, proposed for Cork under the BusConnects Cork plan.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) today unveiled details of its new €600m BusConnects Cork investment plan.

If implemented in full, the plans will include 54km of new cycling and walking infrastructure, as well as 75km of new bus lanes across 12 sustainable transport corridors in the north, south and west of the city.

The corridors will allow for improved footpaths, segregated cycle tracks where achievable and dedicated bus lanes to remove the buses from congestion, where possible. 

BusConnects says its new network of bus routes will reduce journey times across the board and bring improved public transport activity to a number of areas across the city.

But to create them, changes to current road layouts will need to be designed, redesigned and built. 

Each specific route also contains some particular considerations. 

From the removal of on-street parking, to the creation of new bridges, here's what the plan might mean for where you live:

Dunkettle to Cork city 

The Dunkettle to Cork city corridor
The Dunkettle to Cork city corridor

The first new route mentioned as part of the BusConnects plan is the 5km Dunkettle to Cork city corridor.

Under the plan, the current bus journey time of up to 29 minutes would be reduced to just 13 minutes.

A an improved cycle route along most of the length of the corridor will also be established, with a new section of the route redirecting through the North Docks to avoid the most constrained section of the Glanmire Road.

To facilitate this cycle route, BusConnects has hinted that on-street parking spaces may need be reduced in the area.

Mayfield to Cork city 

The Mayfield to Cork city corridor
The Mayfield to Cork city corridor

Bus wait times along the current 3.5km route from Mayfield to Cork city would be cut from up to 32 minutes to just 15 under the new proposals. Again, it is envisioned that a dedicated a cycle lane will also run alongside the route.

Because of restricted widths in some areas cyclists using this route would be re-routed via on offline section through Wellington Road and Gardiner’s Hill, plus Iona Park and Colmcille Avenue.

In its report, BusConnects noted that through traffic from the Old Youghal Road would be limited to access-only.

In this area too, the NTA has suggested that there may need to be a reduction in on-street parking spaces to allow buses to move more freely. Some trees may also need to be removed, but the NTA said it is planning "a comprehensive tree planting" programme to offset this.

Blackpool to Cork city 

The Blackpool to Cork city corridor
The Blackpool to Cork city corridor

Along the Blackpool to Cork city route, BusConnects aims to reduce current bus journey times of up to 24 minutes to just 10.

To achieve this, it says some traffic movement may need to be rearranged, and some on-street parking spots may need to be removed.

The plan would see general through-traffic from between Cathedral Walk and O'Connell Street on the Watercourse Road limited to just access-only, via bus gates - short sections of bus/cycle roadway only.

Due to width constraints, the Thomas Davis Street/Dublin Street section would converted to one-way outbound travel.

Hollyhill to Cork city 

The Hollyhill to Cork city corridor
The Hollyhill to Cork city corridor

The fourth route highlighted in the BusConnects plan is the 3.9km Hollyhill to Cork City stretch.

Currently, bus times here are estimated to take anything from 25 to 29 minutes. Under the new proposals, this would be cut to just 16 minutes.

Here too, traffic movement will likely need to be rearranged and some on-street parking and some trees may be taken away.

The report mentions that through traffic from Cathedral Road may be limited to access-only via bus gates.

Rather than going along Cathedral Road, cyclists using this route would be redirected through Knapps Square and Watercourse Road, which the report describes as "cycle-friendly."

Ballincollig to Cork city 

The Ballincollig to Cork city corridor is the longest of the 12
The Ballincollig to Cork city corridor is the longest of the 12

The longest of the twelve proposed in the BusConnects plan is the 11km route between Ballincollig to Cork city.

At present, an end-to-end journey on this stretch can take up to 56 minutes. BusConnects hopes to cut this to 35.

A new cycle lane will run along the the majority of this route, save for a .5km section redirection at a Victoria Cross Road, Western Road and Mardyke Walk.

In Ballincollig town centre the plan proposes a bus gate " to ensure a sufficient degree of bus priority and enable the provision of dedicated cycle facilities."

The plan also notes the need for a "significant junction upgrade" at the Poulavone Roundabout and for some "redesign and mitigation landscaping" to "balance potential reduction of garden space."

Another consideration noted for this route is "acquisition of buildings" though there little detail on this point.

Bishopstown to Cork city 

The Bishopstown to Cork city corridor
The Bishopstown to Cork city corridor

BusConnects says journeys along the 5.3km road from Bishopstown to Cork city will be slashed from 35 minutes to 19.

The proposed cycle lane along the route will run alongside the bus lane for the most part, but their will be two redirections.

Along Wilton Road, between the Wilton Roundabout and Dennehy’s Cross, it is proposed that cyclists would travel via "a parallel facility" to the east of the road for a distance of about 100m.

Then, along Western Road, it is proposed that cyclists would travel via Mardyke Walk for 200m or so, before linking back up with the corridor at Dyke Parade.

Another proposal for this corridor would see Washington Street and Lancaster Quay converted into a two-way route for buses and cyclists, accommodating local traffic access only.

BusConnects says general two-way traffic would be accommodated on Dyke Parade and Sheares Street, as far as Courthouse Street.

To facilitate all of the above, BusConnects says junction upgrades are required at the Bishopstown Road/ Curraheen Road junction and at the entrance to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

It also notes that the Wilton Roundabout would need to be converted to a signalised junction.

Togher to Cork city 

The Togher to Cork city corridor
The Togher to Cork city corridor

The shortest of the 12 corridors would run for 1.8km from Togher into Cork city.

BusConnects says its plan would see journeys along this route reduced to just 9 minutes.

Though the route is short, BusConnects says a number of new measures would be required here.

The report notes that cycle facilities on the Lough Road would require removal of some on-street parking, and some trees adjacent to the Lough itself.

Closer to the city, it is proposed that inbound cyclists would be redirected via Proby’s Quay and South Main Street, and that outbound cyclists would need to travel Crosses Green and Proby’s Quay. 

Both moves, the report says, are required to limit "potential impact on adjacent historic buildings at Sharman Crawford Street."

The plan would also see "dedicated bus priority" stretches introduced on Pearse Road, Pouladuff Road, Noonan Road and Gregg Road.

Lastly, the plan would see inbound buses travel via Sharman Crawford Street/St. Finbarr’s Bridge, and outbound buses travel via South Main Street/Proby’s Quay.

Airport to Cork city 

The Airport to Cork city corridor
The Airport to Cork city corridor

The BusConnects plan would see an entirelt new route introduced along the route from Cork Airport, via the Southern Link, to the city.

Once established, BusConnects report says the journey would take about 17 minutes.

To accomplish this, it says several measures need to be taken.

Among them are:

  • The provision of bus priority on N27 South Link Road, which itself requires re-designation of existing lanes, or alternatively the widening of a section of the route;
  • Further bus priority on Old Kinsale Road, which would require traffic restrictions on the exit arm from the Kinsale Interchange;
  • The removal off on-street parking on Evergreen Street, Infirmary Road and Langford Row to facilitate cycle facilities;
  • And the introduction of two-way bus movements on Parnell Place and Anglesea Street.

As in Ballincollig, the potential "acquisition of buildings" is listed as a consideration for this corridor, and there is no detail on what this might entail yet.

Maryborough Hill to Cork city

The Maryborough to Cork city corridor
The Maryborough to Cork city corridor

The relatively linear route from Maryborough hill into the city is the next corridor included in the plan.

A large portion of the proposed route encompasses Douglas road which, the report says, "would be made one-way outbound only for general traffic. 

"Inbound traffic would be required to use other routes."

Close to the Southern Road, width constraints would see cyclists temporarily redirected via High Street and Langford Row.

The report also says that High Street and Capwell Road "would be made access-only for general traffic to reduce through-traffic and encourage their use as cycle-friendly streets."

Other significant changes would see Douglas East limited to access-only via Bus gates, and the Fingerpost Roundabout converted to a signalised junction.

If implemented, BusConnects says the 4.3k journey along this bus corridor would taket 14 minutes.

Mahon to Cork city 

The Mahon to Cork city corridor
The Mahon to Cork city corridor

Along the Mahon to Cork city corridor, running via Skehard Road, Churchyard Lane and Boreenmanna Road, bus gates are proposed for Avenue De Rennes, limiting traffic to access-only.

This, it says, would allow buses "to move freely and there will be space to provide cycle facilities."

Among the other measures required along this route are new pedestrian and cycling bridges on either side of the N40 overbridge at Jacob's Island.

Here too, the report says some on-street parking may be removed, along with the requirement for " a comprehensive tree replanting programme to offset the possible removal of some existing trees."

Overall, implementation of the plan would see a journey along this 7.6km route shaved from 30 minutes to 17.

Kinsale Road to Douglas and Well Road Cycle Route 

The Kinsale Road to Douglas and Well Road Cycle Route
The Kinsale Road to Douglas and Well Road Cycle Route

The revamp of this route would see a new bus corridor of 5.7km established, along with a total 4.8km of cycle lanes.

Here, the plan proposes construction of a new bridge to connect Grange Road to Carrigaline road over the Mangala Valley.

Again, the "reduction of garden space" and the removal of some on-street parking spaces and trees are listed as potential considerations.

The report also says additional road-widening would be required on Ballycurreen Road, Grange Road and Carrigaline Road.

The creation of a new "quietway" cycle route along Douglas Hall and Riverbank is also highlighted.

Hollyhill to Sunday's Well

The corridor from Hollyhill to Sunday's Well
The corridor from Hollyhill to Sunday's Well

The final BusConnects corridor runs from Hollyhill down to Sunday's Well and on to the Western Road.

The report notes that because Shanakiel Road and Sunday's Well are "physically constrained" it would not be possible to introduce dedicated bus lanes here.

Instead, the plan proposes that "priority will be provided for buses through traffic signals."

To facilitate cycling, the report says Sunday's Well will need to be connected to Shanakiel Road via the residential development site at St Kevin's.

This, BusConnects says, would "provide a better gradient for cyclists and avoids the most constrained sections" the two roads.

This corridor will also require the construction of a new bridge over the River Lee close to UCC's Mardyke Sports Grounds.

As with all other corridors, the Sunday's Well to Hollyhill route will require the removal of some on-street parking spaces and trees as well as some "redesign and mitigation landscaping."

When all is said and done, BusConnects says journeys along this route will be cut from 34 minutes down to just 12.

At it stands, all of the above proposals are just that - proposals. There is still quite a long way to go.

A detailed report on the NTA's plans to redesign public transport in Cork will be published in June. 

The NTA said a series of community forums will then be established to fully engage people and groups at a local level for each corridor and surrounding areas, as the project progresses.

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