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Project Ireland 2040 will not transform how you live your life in the Harbour Area

*This was published in the Carrigdhoun Edition 24-02-2018 here

To be fair, Cork is to the forefront of Ireland’s project 2040 document which outlines the spatial planning vision of national government through the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the key capital developments of that vision in the National Development Plan (NDP). Cork is mentioned a total of 73 times in the NDP 109 page document. In comparison, Dublin was mentioned 126 times, Limerick 43, Waterford 21, Kerry 13, Clare 3 and Tipperary twice.

The plan outlines that we are getting new roads including the Cork to Limerick motorway, a new BusConnects rapid transit system, development at the Port, University College Cork (UCC), Tyndel, CIT, a new hospital, and a public-private partnership event centre. But in terms of the Harbour area, the investments are a bit more modest with a 55 million investment in the lower Cork harbour main drainage project and Carrigaline’s Western relief road.

The benefits of potentially having a new hospital and additional education facilities are important in developing on much needed investments in pivotal areas for a growing population. Another key aspect is the affect investments will have on liveability - how we get to and from work and how we navigate around the cork-region to go about our daily jobs. For this piece I will focus on this aspect of Project 2040 and what it means for harbour and carrigaline residents.

The BusConnects investment should have a significant impact on liveability in Cork. The BusConnects system should run very much like a light rail system with dedicated bus lanes, avoiding normal traffic congestion and the routes should also be accompanied by adjacent cycle lanes. If done right, this promises to be a great development. Our current public transport infrastructure is one of the key weaknesses for improving the well-being for citizens and for competiveness for businesses in the Cork area. The problems with the 220 and 220x bus are an example of how poor the bus system in Cork actually is. The new BusConnects system should improve things for city residents and those living in Ballincollig and Mahon. But, unfortunately this will have less of an impact for residents in the overall harbour area. Currently, my understandings are that the BusConnects service will only run from West to East, from Ballincollig to Mahon as per the map above. Harbour residents will have to rely on the current bus network which may improve due to developments with the Cork-Ringaskiddy motorway but the buses on this route will have to share the road with other transport. Consequently, it will not have the reliability, efficiency and time savings that a rapid transit system offers.

In my opinion, this is a significant shift in the right direction but is not going far enough to alleviate commuting problems and car dependency in