WATER taxis ferrying passengers from the city to areas such as Cobh, Haulbowline and Ringaskiddy are unlikely in the short to medium-term future, City Hall’s director of planning has said.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) was asked to explore the feasibility of water taxis as part of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) in a submission by Cork Chamber to the public consultation process earlier this year.
However, City Hall director of strategic and economic development Fearghal Reidy has said the council has received little contact from businesses interested in developing such a service.
"We will listen to any business and through the Local Enterprise Office we can give support and if someone wants to look at it as a tourist attraction or a seasonal thing, we will certainly talk to them and I think you’ll see in the CMATS document that there is a reference to being open to the conversation around it but there is very little coming in, in reality," Mr Reidy added.
The Echo understands that a private company is developing a business plan around such a service but no contact has yet been made with either of the county councils in relation to potential routes and service schedules.
Chair of Cork City Council’s economic development and planning strategic policy committee Seán Martin has said any proposal would have to be progressed with both City Hall and County Hall involved. He believes developing cycling routes along greenways is possible a more viable alternative.
“[Water-based transport] has been mooted by a few county councillors but we can’t do it on our own, Cork County Council would have to come on board as well. I think it’s worth looking into but it does back to the density of the population."
"It’s all very well talking about it and having boats going up and down the river but we need to have people using them or the whole thing is a nonsense. I don’t think anybody has devised a market strategy for it.
“If you really want to push cycling and make it a winner, you have to look at routes that work. The Passage to Rochestown greenway comes all the way into the city now through the Marina. If you start developing cycle lanes and pedestrian lanes that work, then it will sell itself,” Mr Martin added.
Plans for water taxis in Cork go back to 2007 with a ferry service under the Harbour Cats project carrying up to 235 passengers at a time to Cobh from the city in 35 minutes, which would have stopped at Monkstown and Passage West.
However, Cork City Council refused permission for the services despite Cork County Council granting planning permission for a number of pick-up points in Cork harbour.
The NTA has admitted that water transport, including water taxis, was not even considered in preparing the draft document for CMATS but has been considered as part of the public consultation and is expected to feature in the final plan.