Raft of deals to ease in return of controversial Cork car ban

Half-price parking deals, an extended park and ride bus service, and new city centre set-down areas are part of a package of measures planned as part of the reintroduction of the controversial afternoon car ban on Cork City’s main street.

General view of Patrick Street

The measures will come into effect from August 9 when City Hall makes its second attempt to introduce bus priority corridors on St Patrick’s Street.

The traffic management proposal remains unchanged with plans to limit access to the city’s main street to buses, taxis, emergency vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists from 3pm to 6.30pm every day.

The so-called “Pana car ban”, a key element of the City Centre Movement Strategy (CCMS), was suspended amid controversy in April just three weeks after its launch.

City centre traders branded it a complete disaster and said the new traffic measures had decimated afternoon trade.

But City Hall said it had not been given enough time to bed in and was beginning to work, delivering improved bus journey times on some routes of up to 28%.

However, city councillors bowed to pressure in April and voted to suspend the car ban to facilitate more detailed consultation.

Officials told councillors last night that they have spent the last two months working on a suite of measures to improve and encourage access to the city centre, that will include:

- Extending the opening hours of the Black Ash park and ride bus service to between 7am and 8pm;

- It will be free of charge from noon;

- It will be extended into the city centre, with new stops at Merchants Quay, St Patrick’s Street, Grand Parade, and South Mall;

- A network of 26 set-down parking spaces will be introduced on South Mall, Grand Parade, Parnell Place, Drawbridge and Cornmarket St to facilitate shoppers and visitors;

- Half-price parking will be offered at the council’s Paul St and North Main St car parks from 1pm each day;

- And the northbound 203 and 215 buses will stop on St Patrick’s St for the first time.

They said the measures will kick in from August 9, at the same time as reduced Bus Éireann fares become available.

City Hall insisted last night that the re-introduction of an afternoon bus priority corridor on St Patrick’s Street will result in significant improvements to bus services in the city.

The changes due to take place on St Patrick’s Street are a small but important step towards the establishment of a rapid transit system linking Ballincollig and Mahon, via the city centre, including the Docklands,” a spokesperson said.

Business leaders will be briefed on the proposals this morning.

A spokesperson for the city council said the CCMS seeks to address the serious traffic management issues associated with economic growth which is expected to deliver an estimated 10,000 new jobs in the city centre within five years.

Officials say traffic congestion in Cork is now worse than it was at the height of the economic boom in 2007, with an estimated two-thirds of the 110,000 vehicles entering the city centre every day using it as a “through route” to other destinations.

Last year, 12.6m people used city bus services with almost 1,000 bus movements on St Patrick’s Street every day.


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