The presidents of two Cork colleges have called for greater public transport in the region, labelling it crucial for prospective students, housing options and economic growth.
Professor Patrick O’Shea, president of University College Cork, and Dr Barry O’Connor, his counterpart at Cork Institute of Technology, both highlighted the need for greater investment in public transport in Cork.
“We really have to get serious about good public transportation,” said Professor O’Shea.
“We need to invest in light rail, heavy rail, buses and properly designated cycling infrastructure.
“It’s critical for the development of the city,” he added.
“We’re now at a quarter of a million people, almost the size of Belfast.
“When I go to foreign countries and I see the developments happening there and the infrastructure in place and I feel a little embarrassed.
“We have to get serious about good public transport because it’s an impediment for economic development for one thing.” Professor O’Shea also explained that better public transport would also have a positive effect on the current housing crisis.
“It would allow much more flexibility in terms of where you could build a house if you have reliable, smooth public transportation,” he said.
“Building more housing estates with poorly functioning roads where people have to drive is not good for anybody.
“Trying to drive from Ballyphehane to Knocknaheeny or vice-versa in the morning is a nightmare,” he added.
Professor O’Shea, a cyclist himself, also highlighted the need for greater cycling infrastructure in the region.
“I cycle, not just for health or environmental reasons, but because I get there faster,” he said.
“The cycling infrastructure is not what it should be because it is very discontinuous.
“There are short sections of cycle lanes and then you’re out on the street,” he added.
“I think that providing a safe environment for people to cycle is critical.” Also addressing the issue of public transport, Dr O’Connor said:
“An expanded public transport system will literally bring the option of pursuing third level education closer to many prospective students including lifelong learners.
“An enhanced orbital bus service would be a great asset to the CIT community, as indeed would an extension of the highly successful City Bikes scheme to the western suburbs, all contributing to a reduced carbon footprint in Cork city.” Dr O’Connor recently highlighted the need for greater public transport in the Cork region to address housing and transport issues.
He explained that reliable public transport would allow people to live outside Cork city and travel in for work or study.
He added that, at the moment, public transport in Cork is unreliable and people are forced to live close to work and college as a result, which is leading to greater competition for accommodation.