New afternoon car ban in Cork city ‘should be given a chance’

Cork Chamber president supports restriction on cars travelling on Patrick Street

Patrick Street, Cork city. Photograph: Eric Luke

Patrick Street, Cork city. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Cork residents should give the new ban on private cars on the city’s main thoroughfare a chance before judging the restriction, the president of Cork Chamber has said.

A restriction was introduced in the city on March 27th which prohibits cars from driving on Patrick Street between 3pm and 6pm.

Bill O’Connell said improved public transport as envisaged by the Cork City Centre Movement Strategy was a key factor for businesses when it came to deciding where to invest. He said Cork was well positioned to capitalise on such growth in the coming years.

Mr O’Connell said Cork looks set to see thousands of new jobs being created in the heart of the city centre, while the area is also set to see its resident population grow as new accommodation is developed – all of which will assist city centre businesses.

“The Cork City Centre Movement Strategy is an essential element of meeting the evolving needs of business, commuting workers and the citizens of Cork through the facilitation of a more effective and sustainable public and private transport system,” he said.

Mr O’Connell said the new car ban was clearly a significant change. While change is difficult, it should always be given a chance, he said.

Mr O’Connell pointed to recent figures released by Bus Éireann which showed that during the period April 2nd to April 6th, the company found that travel times on its Route 205 from Cork Institute of Technology in Bishopstown to Kent Station on the Lower Glanmire Road were reduced by 18 per cent.

He said Bus Éireann had found that on its Route 208 from Lotabeg in Mayfield in the north east of the city to Curraheen in the south west, travel times were cut by 13 per cent in the Bishopstown/Curraheen Road direction and by 28 per cent in the Mayfield/Boherboy Road direction.

“While the improved bus movement efficiency reported by Bus Éireann as a result of the prioritisation of public transport on Patrick Street is welcome, it may well be the case that it proves not to be a workable element of the overall movement strategy but we can’t yet draw that conclusion.”

Cork Chamber represents 1,200 businesses in the Cork area and its call to reserve judgement on the Patrick Street car ban contrasts with that of the smaller Cork Business Association which represents 200 primarily city centre traders and which has called for an immediate cancellation of the ban.

Mr O’Connell acknowledged that there are strongly and genuinely held views on the matter which resulted in Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty last Friday pleading with traders to allow a three month trial period take place before passing judgement on the ban.

“However, with changes in Patrick Street . . . great care needs to be taken that the longer term future of all of our city businesses, transport infrastructure investment, investment plans for new office and accommodation developments are not damaged,” said Mr O’Connell.

The agreed three-month implementation period should be completed with a comprehensive and well-rounded review taking place prior to final decisions being taken while the Government’s promise of €200 million investment through BusConnects should be released without delay, he said.