The Green Party has described cycling and public transport targets in a €3.5bn Cork transport study as “depressingly unambitious”.
Councillor Dan Boyle, the party’s leader on Cork City Council, said even if the modal switch targets contained in the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Study (CMATS) are reached by 2040, the city will still have cycling or bus usage rates which are already being achieved in Dublin now.
He was speaking at the recent council meeting in the wake of the publication of the final CMATS plan which provides a framework for the planning and delivery of transport infrastructure and services in the Cork Metropolitan area over the next two decades.
It outlines proposals for massive investment in bus, cycling, and suburban rail infrastructure, with plans for a light-rail system linking Ballincollig to Mahon.
However, Mr Boyle said: “At the moment in the Cork region, our commuter journeys are made up roughly of around two-thirds private car journeys, about 10% public transport, cycling accounts for just 1%, and the rest is walking.
“Under CMATS, the ambition is by 2040 to still have over 50% car usage, with the slight decrease in car journeys accounted for by a switch to public transport, mainly bus, to increase cycling to around 4%, with no change in the volume of walking journeys.
“The figures ... in 20 years for cars and cycling will still be below where Dublin is now, where car usage is around 52% and cycling is at 9%.
“The capital does have the public transport infrastructure, but the success of the 220 bus route in Cork, which has seen a 70% increase in usage since it became a 24-hour service and frequency was increased, proves that if you build it, people will use it.”
He also pointed out that CMAT proposals for a raft of new suburban rail stations were also included as goals in the 1974 Land Use and Transport Plan.
Party colleague Lorna Bogue backed him, and quipped: “I’m actually scarlet for the NTA.”
Fine Gael councillor Deirdre Forde also criticised part of the CMATS plan, and described the absence of concrete proposals around the development of water transport as a “glaring omission”.
“There is not a city in Europe that doesn’t use its waterways. The fact that it’s not in CMATS means there is a huge gaping hole in the plan,” she said.
She urged councillors to consider the potential for water transport in the preparation of the new city development plan.
Harbour Cat Ferries, which is working on ferry proposal in Cork, said they were very disappointed that CMATS ignores the potential of water transport.
“CMATS boasts about ‘integrated’ and ‘sustainable’ transport, yet completely ignores the ‘elephant in the room’ — or should I say the River Lee — and its natural water right into the heart of the city and the new docklands developments,” a spokesman said.
However, Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill said no plan is perfect and people should not wait until they are.
“We should welcome CMATS, engage with it, and pursue it,” he said.