Free parking initiative aims to support traders amid car ban

A free bus and parking initiative is being introduced in Cork city today to support traders who say the St Patrick’s St car ban has decimated afternoon trade.

The targeted package includes two hours of free parking in the city council-run multi-storey car parks and the waiving of the €5 fee for the city’s park and ride bus service, from noon daily, and a marketing campaign.

The chief executive of Cork City Council, Ann Doherty, who announced the measures last night, said she hopes they will “bring confidence back to customers to visit the city centre”.

“The city is very much open for business,” she said. “We have a change in traffic flow between 3pm and 6.30pm every day. Our great city still has everything it had to offer two weeks ago.

“I would ask the traders to work with us to see if these changes can make a difference.”

However, she said it will be three months before the full impact of the daily three-and-a-half hour car ban can be assessed. It is understood the support measures could be in place for up to three months.

The measures, as first reported by the Irish Examiner yesterday, were unveiled just 24-hours after trader representatives met Ms Doherty to discuss their concerns about the new traffic arrangements.

The council banned private cars from St Patrick’s St between 3pm and 6.30pm daily on March 27 to create a time-regulated bus lane on the city’s main street.

It is a key element of the City Centre Movement Strategy which aims to transform traffic flow in the city.

However, several traders said it has led to a dramatic reduction in footfall and turnover, and they had threatened to withhold commercial rates unless the car ban was lifted.

Ms Doherty said she was conscious and mindful of their concerns, and spent yesterday finalising the support measures.

From 12pm today, customers will be able to use the Black Ash park and ride free, Monday to Saturday. Buses run every 15 minutes.

And in the city council’s North Main St and Paul St car parks, customers will get four hours’ parking for the price of two between 12pm and 6pm.

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