The Green Party has accused the two main political parties on Cork City Council of kicking the city’s pressing public transport needs down the road after a controversial bus and bike lanes project was rejected.
The party spoke out following confirmation that plans for the strategic Wilton transport corridor are now back in the hands of city councillors in the wake of Monday’s council vote.
Councillors voted 16-8 against the first phase of the Wilton Corridor plan which proposed taking a portion of some front gardens to widen a section of the Wilton Road to facilitate bus and bike lanes.
The first BusConnects-style project in Cork city to affect front gardens was designed to improve public transport infrastructure on a key road which serves several large employers including Cork University Hospital, UCC, CIT and the Model Farm Road business park.
The route has been identified as a crucial link in what will become one of the city’s most important public transport corridors under the National Transport Authority's (NTA) Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Study (CMATS).
But the Wilton scheme faced stiff opposition from local residents who cheered the result of the council vote.
City officials confirmed that councillors will now have to discuss and decide how they wish to proceed in relation to the upgrade of transport routes in this part of the city.
Residents in the area said they look forward to having a "meaningful seat at the table" when the issue is back on the agenda.
But the Green Party, which supported the project, said councillors can’t afford to reject such schemes anymore.
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil councillors have done what they always do when it comes to matters like this - kick the issue down the road, and hope it either goes away and solves itself,” Cllr Colette Finn said.
“This road won’t get better on its own, public transport in the city won’t get better on its own. We have to be proactive, and the council have to be leading that action.”
The party also urged the council to be more proactive in communicating the benefits of its transport strategy to the public.
"It became about the council stealing your front garden to put in more roads,” Ms Finn said.
“I think there’s a justified fear out there now on how this vote may affect future situations, similar to this one, and how it will affect further plans to redevelop our infrastructure with public transport and cycling in mind.
“Some people, my fellow councillors included, raised concerns over the impact the proposed scheme would have the quality of life for residents on that particular road, but no one seems to have considered the impact on the wider community for these works to not go ahead."