Cork can be the most accessible city in Ireland if public transport, cycling and walking routes are implemented en masse, or it could become even more congested if present policies are continued.
That was the message from the chief executive of the National Transport Authority (NTA), Anne Graham at Cork Chamber’s monthly business breakfast, as she outlined the public consultation document plan that aims to transform the city’s walkways, cycle lanes and commuter options.
The €3.5bn plan includes 200 kilometres of new and upgraded footpaths to cater for a projected 63% increase in walking journeys to 2040, as well as a 250% increase in footfall on the city’s main thoroughfare, Patrick St.
Some 24,000 car journeys could be converted to walking with the new facilities in place, the plan said.
A 200-kilometre primary cycle network supplemented by another 150 kilometres could replace 56,000 car journeys, including 13,000 during peak congestion time, the plan said.
The bus network planned would carry 49,000 passengers in peak times, as well as 85 million passengers a year.
A 17-kilometre light rail with 25 stops between Ballincollig and Mahon would carry 46 million passengers yearly.
Eventually connecting buses with light rail will transform the city, Ms Graham said.
The changes would enable Cork to be “dynamic, connected and internationally competitive”, she said.
Cork’s population is projected to grow by up to 60% by 2040, according to the Government’s projections.
Ms Graham said: “If Cork is going to achieve that growth, this is the transport that it is going to need. That will not happen overnight, it will be gradual enough.
"There will be individuals resistant to what we are proposing or implementing but you have to keep thinking about the big picture and how we can radically improve people’s lives.”