Cork transport chiefs promise 'soft and subtle’ car ban reboot in August

Transport chiefs in Cork have promised a “soft and subtle” reboot of the controversial car ban on the city’s main street, insisting the measure is vital to avoid chronic traffic congestion and secure up to €200m in investment in public transport.

Cork transport chiefs promise 'soft and subtle’ car ban reboot in August

They admitted they underestimated the resistance to the St Patrick’s St car ban which was scrapped earlier this year after just three weeks.

But they expressed confidence that a new package of supporting measures which could be worth up to €300,000 — including an extended park and ride service, parking deals, and a massive city centre marketing campaign — will create a “positive platform” for the reintroduction of the bus priority corridors.

The ban on private cars from the city’s main street from 3pm to 6.30pm daily will be reintroduced on August 9.

The move is a key part of the ambitious 2013 City Centre Movement Strategy (CCMS) — a 10-phase city-wide scheme to better route through traffic around the city centre, and to improve its public transport network.

However, the measure was suspended in April amid uproar from traders who claimed it had decimated afternoon trade and created a “ghost town”.

The head of the city council’s roads and transportation directorate, Gerry O’Beirne, said he and his officials have spent the last two months engaging closely with the various stakeholders, which has resulted in a suite of supporting measures which includes:

  • Extending the Black Ash park and ride bus service into the city centre with new stops at Merchants Quay, St Patrick’s St, Grand Parade and South Mall;
  • Extending the park and ride’s opening hours from 7am to 8pm and making it free of charge from noon Monday to Saturday;
  • The installation of 26 free 15-minute set-down parking spaces on South Mall, Grand Parade, Parnell Place, Drawbridge and Cornmarket St;
  • Half-price parking will be offered at the council’s Paul St and North Main St car parks from 1pm each day;
  • The northbound 203 and 215 buses will stop on St Patrick’s St for the first time;
  • Reduced fare promotions on Bus Éireann services.

“I am confident the package of measures will create a sufficiently positive platform for everybody to go ahead with the changes,” Mr O’Beirne said.

“I am confident that the experience will be a positive one for the city.”

He said City Hall will engage closely with the business community as the traffic measure is rolled out. But he declined to say how long it will be before the scheme can be declared a success.

He insisted the creation of bus lanes on St Patrick’s St, the city’s busiest bus corridor, must happen with up to 5,000 jobs expected to be created in the city centre within three years.

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