The State agency responsible for attracting foreign direct investment has backed bus lanes on Cork’s main street as part of the overall strategy to improve the city’s public transport system.
In a significant intervention last night in the debate over the afternoon car ban on the city’s St Patrick’s St, the IDA said the availability and reliability of public transport is a “key requisite” for employees.
IDA Ireland South West regional manager Ray O’Connor said:
“If Cork is to continue to grow and compete globally for the next wave of foreign direct investment, a key requirement will be to offer future employers and employees a reliable and efficient public transport system.
The City Centre Movement Strategy is a welcome development and will be key to the modernisation of Cork city’s transportation network as well as being an important component to supporting the expansion of both city centre and suburban areas for further employment opportunities among overseas companies.
Mr O’Connor said Cork has had unprecedented levels of development over the past decade, and the fight to lure foreign direct investment has never been as competitive, with a major rise in the number of countries, and locations large and small, vying for the same investment.
“International companies increasingly seek investment locations that offer vibrant city centres, high quality city centre property solutions, established sectoral clusters and strong research and development ecosystems,” he said.
“There are now more people employed in overseas companies in Cork than ever before with an estimated 38,867 people employed across 169 overseas companies in Cork City and county. There has been year-on-year growth in employment over the past 10 years.
“In the past five years alone, there are over 11,200 additional people working in overseas companies in Cork city and county. Established employment hubs exist across the metropolitan area of Cork and most notably, companies are increasingly attracted to city centre locations.”
The most controversial measure of the city council’s City Centre Movement Strategy is the prioritisation of buses on St Patrick’s St between 3pm to 6.30pm daily.
City Hall has said it is vital to prioritise public transport with thousands of city centre jobs due to come on stream in the next three years.
However, six months after its reintroduction, the so-called Pana car ban is facing opposition again.
A new city centre traders group has been established to campaign for its abolition.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said at the weekend the measure should be amended because it is affecting city centre retail trade.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil councillor Ken O’Flynn is seeking support for a Section 150 motion ahead of tonight’s city council meeting which, if secured, could compel the council chief executive to suspend the Pana car ban.
The Cork Business Association endorsed the measure at its annual awards dinner this weekend and said it is working on a suite of new measures to support all city centre businesses.