Written answers

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Bus Services

Photo of Pauline TullyPauline Tully (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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78. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has concerns regarding the safety issues faced by disabled people in navigating floating bus islands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13256/24]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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I am absolutely aware of the views expressed by some members of the disability community regarding the issue of island bus stops.

The NTA has advised my Department of the challenges posed by the interaction between buses, cyclists, and pedestrians at bus stops. This interaction is particularly pronounced when pedestrians navigate from the footpath onto the bus, and vice versa. Either pedestrians must cross the cycle facility to access the bus, or the bus must cross the cycle facility to allow boarding and alighting. This inevitably leads to some level of movement overlap, between pedestrians and cyclists or between buses and cyclists.

Our public transport policies aim to enhance the appeal and accessibility of public transport, fostering a sustainable and integrated network. I am cognisant that this commitment is especially vital for vulnerable groups, including individuals with disabilities, mobility concerns, and older people. However, when it comes to managing interactions between pedestrians, cyclists, and buses at bus stops, the NTA has emphasised that no perfect solution, and that a delicate balance of differing needs is required.

Following engagement with the National Disability Authority, the Cycle Design Manual - published in August 2023 - suggests a number of layouts for cycling and pedestrian arrangements at bus stops, to address different scenarios, including those where additional reinforcement of user priorities at the cycle track crossing is required. It also provides appropriate layouts that enable these facilities to be safely provided.

Internationally, the use of these "island bus stops" is a commonly implemented, albeit imperfect, solution to manage these conflicting manoeuvres. The NTA convened a workshop in 2019 with representatives from disability and cycling groups to address these issues and explore optimal layouts considering all users' needs. While consensus on a single design was not achieved, the feedback informed current bus stop layouts, which strive to accommodate all users.

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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79. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport what action his Department is taking to improve the bus service in Cork city in view of recurring issues with reliability of bus services including cancelled and late buses, and the frequency of these issues occurring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13075/24]

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin Bay South, Green Party)
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I am aware of the ongoing public transport service issues in Cork City, and the negative impact that they are having on the travelling public.

Further, the National Transport Authority have advised that they are specifically aware of the punctuality and reliability issues in Cork City and that they are working closely with Bus Éireann to address these.

I am further advised by the NTA that there are a number of routes in Cork City that are being prioritised for planned service improvements in2024. To this end, Bus Éireann are working with the NTA to examine what steps can be taken in 2024 to improve service provision in the city, and counter issues such as traffic congestion.

In terms of delivery, the MacCurtain Street public transport improvement scheme, which was introduced in November 2023, has already brought improvements to the network with the opening of new 24-hour bus lanes on MacCurtain Street, Coburg Street, Bridge Street and Cathedral Walk. However, I fully recognise that there is still work to be done in Cork City to build on these incremental changes.

In particular, service reliability and punctuality enhancements for Routes 220, 225 and 226 need to be addressed, and these routes in particular are being reviewed by the NTA and Bus Éireann with a view towards additional timetable refreshes. Further, recruitment drives for drivers are underway in Cork to address shortages which will also improve service provision.

Further, the planned Cork Network Redesign will involve the creation of new bus routes and improved bus frequencies to help transform the public transport network to meet anticipated growth and future demand in the region. It is currently anticipated that the Cork Network Redesign will commence implementation from 2025 subject to funding and resource availability.

Finally I’d note these issues highlight the fundamental importance of ensuring bus priority measures, such as those proposed as part of BusConnects Sustainable Transport Corridors, and I look forward to the Deputy’s support in their implementation in the coming years.


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