Transport chiefs in Cork insist there will be no U-turn on the afternoon car ban on St Patrick’s Street despite a formal call for its suspension.
And they have also said that planned public transport improvements in the short-to-medium term will focus on bus and rapid bus transport rather than light rail, with some €200m earmarked for the BusConnects scheme in the city over the next decade.
They said the city has yet to reach the required population density on key transport corridors which the state needs to justify the massive investment required for a light rail system.
But they said the design and development of the city’s bus transport system will factor in the possible delivery of light rail in the years ahead.
The comments were made during a lengthy debate on transport issues at Monday’s meeting of Cork City Council.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Tim Brosnan followed through on his pledge to call for the suspension of the St Patrick’s St afternoon car ban after City Hall admitted it could not provide comparative footfall figures for the street from last year.
The council released figures earlier this month which showed that footfall on the street has held steady since the reintroduction of the bus lane on August 9 last. But the council has no comparative figures for 2017.
In a written question, Mr Brosnan said given that the council can’t furnish evidence to demonstrate the car ban’s impact on footfall year-on-year, the council chief executive, Ann Doherty, should immediately suspend the ‘Pana ban’ until midnight on Sunday, January 6.
He also called for the introduction of parking incentives on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays to entice shoppers into the city centre.
In response, the head of the council’s transport directorate, Gerry O’Beirne, said the bus priority measure on St Patrick’s St, from 3pm to 6.30pm daily, is a vital part of a broader suite of measures designed to modernise and improve the city’s transport system.
“These measures have contributed to a significant increase in bus passenger numbers of city centre services in recent months,” he said.
“As such, there are no proposals to suspend any bus routes or related bus services.”
He pointed to the recent introduction of a free parking initiative in the council’s multi-storey car parks, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and said it is one of a number of initiatives being introduced to promote late evening shopping in the run-up to Christmas.