Transport authority claims it 'got balance right' over BusConnects

NTA bows to public pressure by reducing cuts to car-parking spaces, while some proposed bus lanes will instead be bus gates
Transport authority claims it 'got balance right' over BusConnects

Chief executive Anne Graham said the NTA has to provide 'the best solution for the public transport system and cycling infrastructure'. Picture: Clare Keogh

The National Transport Authority (NTA) says it has "got the balance right" when it comes to the €600m BusConnects for Cork, amid significant changes to earlier plans.


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Following the first series of consultations on the plan, the NTA bowed to public pressure by reducing the levels of car-parking spaces that would have been affected by almost a third, while a number of mooted bus lanes will instead become "bus gates".

The bus-gates are similar to loading bays, in that they will only be allowed to be used by buses for certain hours of the day, before being opened to all traffic during less busy times. However, they will largely be contingent on the compliance of motorists to work, the NTA conceded.

When asked if the new plan was a concession to the status quo of the car-centric transport model, the NTA said it was rather about compromise.

"It is compromise. We have to provide the best solution for the public transport system and cycling infrastructure," said NTA chief executive Anne Graham. "That is our priority, to make sure we achieve the bus priority that we need. 

"We can achieve that in some locations by bus gates rather than end-to-end bus lanes. It does mean that we can retain some on-street car-parking spaces.

"It’s about getting that balance right. This is another proposal for consultation. If people feel that we haven’t got the balance right, then we would like to hear that as well. It’s another means of delivering the same level of priority."

Following the first round of public consultation, the NTA said it reviewed almost 3,000 submissions made by the public, as well as engaging with 35 residents groups, business and special interest groups across the city.

The second public consultation following the unveiling of the revised plan has now been launched, and a series of information events will be hosted across Cork in April.

The NTA said the new proposal will see around 91km of new bus lanes and bus priority and 96km of cycle facilities. There are now 11 of the "sustainable transport corridors", which are effectively routes across the city for buses to take.

Transport and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan has repeatedly gone on record warning local authorities throughout the country that he will withdraw funding allocated for public transport if they cannot get "quick wins" such as bus lanes and reallocated road space over the line in the next two to three years.

Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty said she is not worried about losing funding, but did concede that some sacrifices will have to be made in order to meet emissions targets by 2030.

"The city is unrecognisable in terms of cycling infrastructure and improved pedestrian access right across the city, as well as improved bus corridors. I’m not afraid we’ll lose it, but I do believe we have choices to make," she said.

"Consulting with people is really important to get their views but we will have to make some decisions also. I think we’re on a very strong journey but we can’t forget our commitments to Europe to be carbon-neutral by 2030, which is seven years' time," she said.

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