FAILURE to utilise water transport in a 20-year transport strategy for Cork city is a “glaring omission” in the €3.5bn plan, it has been claimed.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) launched the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) draft document this week which includes plans for a light rail system, an improved suburban rail network, upgraded cycling and pedestrian networks and 100km of new bus priority lanes.
However, the NTA has admitted that water transport, including water taxis, was not even considered in preparing the draft document.
Douglas-based councillor Deirdre Forde (FG) said she is surprised at the lack of water-based public transport in the plan given Cork has one of the largest natural harbours in the world.
Ms Forde said: “In terms of a holistic approach, I’m very surprised that one element is left out, and that is water transport.
“We have one of the largest natural harbours in the world and I am a great advocate of water taxis, similar to what they have in Australia in Brisbane and Sydney.
“These are solar powered and totally sustainable from an environmental point of view and they could be accessed throughout the harbour and across the harbour for major employment centres,” she added.
“I think it’s a glaring omission not to have that included as part of a holistic approach.”
NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan said it will take water transport into consideration as part of the public consultation process.
“Water taxis is just something that didn’t come up in the preparation of the strategy,” he said.
“The good thing is that it is a draft strategy so we can take a look at [water transport] during the consultation process.”
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 Cork Metropolitan Area Draft Transport Strategy 2040 aims to provide a “better, more efficient and sustainable” transport network and will go to public consultation from Wednesday until 5pm on Friday, June 28.
Consultation material will be available to view at Cork City Hall and Cork County Hall for the duration of the consultation period, with information events also being held in various city and county locations over the next month.