In its first public comment on the 3pm-6.30pm car ban, which was introduced by Cork City Council on March 27 to prioritise buses but which the Cork Business Association (CBA) say has hit trade and put jobs at risk, Cork Chamber said it is too early to say whether the initiative is working or not.
“The agreed three month implementation period should be completed with a comprehensive review taking place prior to final decisions, while the recently announced Government investment of €200m through BusConnects is released without delay to allow rapid progress be made across Cork’s public transport infrastructure,” said Chamber president Bill O’Connell.
The comments come as a petition gets underway calling for the traffic changes to be scrapped.
City council chief executive Ann Doherty, who has asked for the ban to be given three months to assess, has introduced free parking and park and ride bus deals, to support traders.
However, the CBA said traders can not afford to wait that long, and want the ban scrapped immediately. While some retailers reported an increase in footfall over the weekend, others said their figures were down between 25% and 40% on the same Saturday last year.
However, Mr O’Connell last night said the Cork City Centre Movement Strategy, of which the St Patrick’s St car ban is a key part, is an essential element of meeting the evolving needs of the city through the facilitation of a more effective public and private transport system.
He said the city’s population is set to increase, and that thousands of new jobs will be created in the city over the coming years, bringing a “vibrancy and spending power which will ultimately benefit our much valued traders hugely”.
However, he pointed out that the Chamber’s 1,200 members, employing more than 100,000 people, have said public transport efficiency and upgrades is a top priority and a key element of future investment and location decision-making.
“Change is almost always difficult but change also needs to be given a chance,” said Mr O’Connell.