There have been calls for more enforcement of the 'Pana ban' in Cork city as new figures show a marginal increase in footfall on the main street since its introduction.
City officials have also confirmed that preliminary design proposals will be published early next year for another major overhaul of city centre traffic - this time in the MacCurtain St area, to include St Patrick’s Quay, Merchant’s Quay, Anderson’s Quay and surrounding areas.
The designs will mark the next phase of the City Centre Movement Strategy (CCMS) which hit the headlines following the introduction of the controversial time-regulated bus lanes on St Patrick's St in the summer of 2018.
Under the so-called 'Pana ban', private cars are banned from the city's main street every day from 3pm to 6.30pm, with access to the bus lanes restricted to public transport, taxis, cyclists and emergency vehicles.
The measure is designed to facilitate the street's estimated 1,000 bus movements daily but the car ban is being flouted every day.
Labour Cllr John Maher said the situation has worsened in recent weeks and city officials need to tackle it.
"We need to revisit this. We need to do something about it. We are either serious about the car ban or we are not," he said.
The city's head of traffic, Gerry O'Beirne, said as with all other bus lanes across the city, enforcement is a matter for An Garda Siochana.
He told councillors that monthly activity reports show the level of on-street and off-street parking activity in the city centre has not diminished since the bus priority measures were introduced.
And he said the pedestrian counters installed on the street since August 2018 show the figures have been "maintained within a consistent range".
"The year-on-year data - for the period August, September, October, November of 2018 versus 2019 - shows that pedestrian movement has increased by circa 2%," he said.
Bus Éireann has also reported improvements in bus journey time reliability and better average bus speeds for the services using St Patrick's St, including the 208 and 205 services.
Mr O'Beirne also pointed to the other improvements introduced alongside the CCMS, including the introduction by Bus Éireann of 19 low-floor fully accessible buses this year, reduced fares for areas such as Ballincollig, Blarney and Glanmire, and improved services and frequencies, including the first 24-hour bus service in Ireland, connecting Ballincollig, via the city centre with Carrigaline.
The combination of service and route improvements has supported the significant growth in passenger numbers reported in recent months, with a 14% increase in passenger trips in 2018.
It is anticipated that circa 16m passenger trips will be recorded on Cork City services for year end 2019 as compared to 10m in 2013.
The key phases of the CCMS which have been completed to date, include the renewal of Parnell Place, upgrades to Pope's Quay, new pedestrian, cycle and bus facilities between Kent Station and the city centre, and along the Lower Glanmire Rd /Brian Boru St/Penrose Quay, upgrades to roads around the Middle Parish, and the installation of the Mary Elmes pedestrian and cycling bridge.