Public Consultation Expected For Local Bus Routes
Writes Ciaran Dineen
According to a representative of the National Transport Authority (NTA), the public will be invited to take part in a consultation process later this summer as part of a review of the bus service networks across Cork.
This was revealed by a spokesperson for the NTA at a recent meeting with members of the Carrigaline Municipal District (MD) at their monthly meeting last week.
Councillors have for some time requested the attendance of a representative of the NTA to come before the MD, in an attempt to solve a number of minor issues that currently affect the delivery of bus services in the area.
It’s the first time since February 2018 that public representatives have had this type of discussion with the NTA at a municipal level. Just over three years ago, members of the old Ballincollig-Carrigaline ward welcomed area manager Martin Walsh to County Hall, where it was first revealed that the introduction of the 220 and 220x would come into operation, with further details emerging about the 225 service from Haulbowline to Cork Airport, via Ballygarvan.
It would be hard to disagree that since the commencement of both routes, public transport connectivity in the local area has improved significantly, with the 24 hour service of the 220 presenting fantastic opportunities for people living in Crosshaven and Carrigaline to use public transport at all times of the day to travel for work and pleasure into Cork City Centre.
However, over the past two years a few issues continue to crop up with the delivery of the 220s and the 225, while other servicing issues around bus stops, bus poles and shelters have proven to be very frustrating for councillors. The meeting with Edward Rhys Thomas of the NTA thus provided public representatives with an opportunity to raise any and all problems encountered.
225: Coolmore And School Connections
For many months Councillor Seámus McGrath (FF) has called on the NTA to review its decision for the 225 bus service to no longer serve residents in Coolmore. Originally, when the route was established, the bus had travelled to Shanbally via Coolmore but following a change to the timetable in January, the area is no longer served.
Another point raised by Cllr McGrath was the fact that the 225 does not connect with schools on the south side of Carrigaline, most notably Edmund Rice College and Carrigaline Educate Together. He informed Mr Thomas that many families had chosen to send their children to such schools on the basis that they would have a direct link via public transport.
Councillor Ben Dalton O’Sullivan (Ind) raised a not too dissimilar point, noting that students from Fivemile had been using the bus to travel to school but under the revised route many are no longer served.
Responding to Cllr McGrath, Mr Thomas indicated that the reason why the bus no longer travelled through Coolmore was because it could then no longer serve some of the pharmaceutical companies such as BioMarin and Pfizer.
He noted that there were lots of “competing issues” and it would be impossible to cater for everyone, making the point that the goal is to have routes that target as high a population as possible. In relation to access to schools, he added that there could be an opportunity to re-examine elements of the old route such as this and if there was ‘running time’, the bus could possibly exit the Primary Care Centre and turn left up the newly christened, Cherry Blossom Road.
Cllr McGrath in response reiterated his desire for Coolmore to be served, noting that many other pharmaceuticals factories were currently not along the route and they would be if the bus reverted back to its old line.
Bus Poles And Shelters
A constant thorn in the side of public reps is their lack of say over the installing of bus shelters and ability to replace bus poles that have fallen or broken. Councillor Marcia D’Alton (Ind) is well used to the frustration that this brings and regularly lobbies the MD to send letters to the NTA requesting the replacement of poles in the district.
Cllr McGrath also raised a topic that has been on many council agenda over the years, relating to the potential provision of a bus shelter on The Bridge in Carrigaline. It had been previously suggested that the historical features of the stonework on the bridge would prevent any serious works from taking place but this has never been officially confirmed despite numerous attempts to receive clarification.
Mr Thomas informed Councillors that it was his intention to compile a list of all bus stops and shelters that representatives wished to address with the NTA, who have a specific revenue stream especially for this type of infrastructure.