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Transport expert: Time for Ireland to update its antiquated bus networks

The Cork Bus Network Redesign Choices Report has invited the public to be a part of the process.

AN INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC transport expert, working on revamping bus routes in Cork, said that Ireland must update its antiquated bus networks.

Michelle Poyourow, of US-based Jarrett Walker and Associates, has been involved in the redesign of public transport systems in 28 cities in Russia, across the American continent, Iceland, New Zealand and in Dublin.   

She was speaking during the launch of the Cork Bus Network Redesign Choices Report which will see the Cork city public transport demand be examined and modernised.

The NTA said that the redesign of the bus network, including timetables, frequencies and routes, is one of the nine key elements of BusConnects Cork.

BusConnects is a national undertaking by the authority to modernise connectivity across the network in Irish communities. 

Poyourow, along with Anne Graham, Chief Executive of the National Transport Authority, said that a need for updating traditional bus routes was required.

Graham revealed that a study of Dublin bus routes found that two of the routes were traditionally associated with long defunct tram lines which ceased operating back in 1949.

Graham said that the NTA’s study and redesign of Dublin’s bus systems found many routes were directly related to historic tram lines in the city which stopped services in 1949.

“That did have historic patterns of travel and route numbers that actually dated back to two old tram services, so you could see, the types of services were replicating over the decades,” she explained. 

Traditional

Poyourow believes that there needs to be a regular rethink and examination of “inherited” bus routes.

“The bigger opportunity here is actually just to revisit the design of the network, to think about it from a blank slate.

“What we know from working around the world, is any bus network grows.

“It evolves over many years but it continues to bring along patterns that may be 20 or 30 or 40, even 50 years old that haven’t been thought about in 50 years – they’re just tradition.

“A  city and a county changes every couple generations and there is a need to do a blank slate rethinking. This means you can look at those patterns and ask do these make sense for today,” she said.

Bus pana A double decker bus on Cork's St Patrick's Street. Source: Shutterstock/gabriel12

Poyourow said that in redesigning bus networks, like in Cork, some routes will remain unchanged as “they make sense”.  

“I think there are also some patterns that probably don’t make sense for today and this is a chance now to look at them again for the first time and perhaps in a couple of decades, we can evaluate how they suit the Cork of today and also how it is expected to grow so much in the next couple of decades,” she added.

Lessons learned

Graham said that implementing a new design must involve feedback from local communities as well the technical requirements.

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“To get that balance between what is right technically for the future of the city and region, and then match that with the desires and demands of the local people,” she said.

Graham said the NTA were continuously looking at improving networks across the country and had received a substantial injection of Government funding to update and create new services.

Cork transport use

The Cork metropolitan area serves a population of 305,000 people making an average of 820,000 trips each weekday. The study discovered that 74% of those trips are made by car, 20% walking and 5% using public transport with 1% cycling.

shutterstock_1916515787 An aerial view of the River Lee in Cork city.

The infrastructure element of BusConnects Cork will be addressed in the coming months.

The NTA said the Choices Report is about initial decisions that need to be made in redesigning the bus network. Responses to the online survey will be used to inform a new draft network that will be published later this year.

The draft network will be open to a further process of public consultation before being finalised in early 2022. It is expected that the final new network will begin to be implemented in 2023.

The public consultation phase of the report is now available online.

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