WATER-based transport infrastructure needs to be considered as part of Cork’s 2040 transport strategy, it has been claimed.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has been 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.
The Chamber believes water-based transport routes could be developed between key employment and residential areas such as Cobh, Haulbowline and Ringaskiddy. The submission also states there could be “considerable” potential to connect Little Island to the city via water.
Chamber CEO Conor Healy said the market will dictate demand for services but water modes of transport need to be explored to run alongside plans for increased bus corridors, expanded rail networks, a light rail system and walking and cycling networks.
“Cork is intrinsically linked with the River Lee and the harbour and if you look at employment zones they align, not just in the city, but out toward Ringaskiddy and Cobh. It’s an area that needs to be included in the plan,” Mr Healy told The Echo.
“The role for the NTA is to recognise the potential that is there for water-based transport in Cork and make provision for the infrastructure that would be needed such as the Marinas and berthing points.
“Subsequently, it’s down to the market demand for delivery of those services. We have seen the growth in the use of the harbour from a leisure point of view, there’s no reason why we can’t see transport and commuter services complimenting that leisure-based activity. That is something that will evolve from a market opportunity point of view but I think there is an onus on the NTA in the transport strategy to facilitate water transport as part of the overall mix for Cork,” Mr Healy 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, with stops 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.
However, NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan said it will take water transport into consideration as part of the public consultation process.