Supercharging Public Transport around Limerick’s Superblock

Liveable Limerick are proposing a “Superblock” in the city centre (PDF link with more information) bordered by William Street, Parnell Street, Mallow Street and Henry Street. The Superblock would be accessible for vehicles, but would not allow vehicles to travel through the block on their way to somewhere else. It’s a fabulous idea that would allow us to achieve a really ambitious people-centered city centre that would act as a magnet for investment in the region.

Here is a simplified schematic of the current traffic configuration around the Superblock, with each lane shown in black:

Cities that plan to grow need excellent public transport. Buses in Limerick City are…less than excellent. The most frequent service from Raheen to Castletroy in particular suffers large delays because buses have to thread a meandering route through the city centre. There is also little integration between bus services. How could you configure the streets bordering the Superblock that would give priority to public transport? Here’s one idea, with bus lanes in green:

You would need to remove on-street parking from Mallow St to enable a third lane of traffic. But the benefits would be huge:

  • All buses have fully segregated routes in both directions around the superblock
  • All bus services interchange at the bus/rail station, apart from the Westbury/Fr Russell Rd service which offers a cross street interchange with all other services at Mallow St
  • Faster bus times
  • More reliable service

Here’s what the city bus services would look like with this plan:

For a stretch goal, Parnell St could easily accommodate an on-street terminal for private buses, allowing private buses run by Dublin Coach, Citylink and JJ Kavanagh’s to interchange with city services, and to take advantage of segregated routes around the city centre.

GetThere.ie – finally a good intermodal journey planner for Ireland

Notes on planning a trip between Limerick and Kilkenny
My laborious notes trying to plan a public transport trip *before* I found the excellent GetThere.ie

It’s always been a challenge to try and plan public transport journeys in Ireland that don’t begin or end in the centre of Dublin.  Irish Rail and Bus Eireann have their own journey planners, but they don’t integrate together with each other, never mind with some of the excellent new private coach operators who are taking advantage of the new motorway network to offer quick and comfortable direct services.

Enter GetThere.ie – a proper public transport journey planner for Ireland.  You can enter your origin and destination, and the site will spit out all your available options.  The site is very clever at integrating between different services, so for example a search from Kilkenny to Limerick will offer you the option of taking Dublin Coach to Kildare Village, and then taking Irish Rail to Kilkenny.

What’s more, the site has an integrated carsharing facility – you can request or offer a car share, and it shows up immediately in the search results.

The guy behind it is very responsive and responded very quickly to a comment I made on the site. I love the fact that something so useful and complex has been developed by one guy plugging away with (presumably) a shoestring budget. Although presumably his job could have been a lot easier if the National Transport Agency mandated that operators share their timetables in an open format. Knowing the NTA they’ll probably drop a few million on a competing website which won’t be nearly as good.