They voted to retain the Cork City Movement Strategy (CCMS), including the controversial Patrick Street car ban, after an intense debate in City Hall.
Fifteen councillors voted in favour of maintaining the bus priority corridor on Patrick Street after Councillor Tim Brosnan (FF) called for the scheme to be suspended.
Five councillors voted to suspend the car ban, which is in place daily between 3pm and 6.30pm on Patrick Street.
Mr Brosnan and party colleague Ken O’Flynn argued that the ban is hitting city centre traders but councillor Fiona Ryan said it was time for them to stop pandering to the needs of a “small number of traders”.
She said several city centre traders are fully in support of the ban on private cars accessing Patrick Street.
Councillor Paudie Dineen also put forward a motion to reduce the ban on private cars to Monday to Friday and allow free flow of traffic on weekends.
Mr Brosnan supported the motion and said “jobs are at stake”.
Mr Dineen’s motion was also defeated by 15 votes to five, meaning the bus corridor will continue to be in place seven days a week.
Former Lord Mayor Chris O’Leary, a member of the Cork City Centre CORE group, which includes Cork Chamber, Cork Business Association, gardaí, and Bus Éireann, said there is damage being done to footfall in Cork city by a “negative rhetoric” associated with the bus corridor.
Cllr Tom O’Driscoll, also a member of CORE, added the restrictions on private cars are being flouted “right, left and centre” and called for stronger enforcement.
Bus Éireann has confirmed that bus passenger numbers have grown by 12% since the introduction of the bus corridor, with the transport provider taking on new staff and investing in 12 new buses for its Cork city fleet last year.
City Hall roads and transport director Gerry O’Beirne said that if the city’s transport network is not modernised, it will “severely” restrict job growth. “Cork’s population is expected to grow significantly over the coming years, making it one of the fastest growing areas in the country. With new developments at Albert Quay, Navigation Square, Horgan’s Quay, Sullivan’s Quay and South Mall, the city centre is becoming the location for thousands of new jobs.
“If council were not to implement these necessary changes to modernise the transport network, as agreed, the potential for continued jobs and population growth and the development of public transport would be severely restricted,” he added.