THE Government has been accused of prioritising Dublin over Cork after a vital transport plan, due to be published 10 months ago, has been delayed until 2019.
The Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy is being prepared by local authorities, in partnership with the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, and has been promised for many months.
The document will propose a range of public transport improvements including a possible LUAS-style, light rail or rapid bus system through the city.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross initially said it would be delivered in February this year and more recently it was stated a draft form of the strategy would be released for public consultation before the end of the year.
But Minister Ross has now said he expects a draft plan to progress to public consultation early in 2019. Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire says the delay shows a typical neglect of the city.
“I would consider buying the Government calendars for Christmas because every deadline that applies to Cork seems to be missed, whether it is the Events Centre or now the metropolitan transport strategy, which is going to be 12 months late,” he said.
“A lot was made in Project 2040 of Cork’s ability to grow, with ambitious population targets. That’s not going to be possible without infrastructure. These significant projects take time to go through planning and consultation. People might have concerns that need to be addressed, so we need a good run into this.”
The strategy will cover a whole range of transport elements, including the possibility of a light rail system for the city. It will also make recommendations on a number of road network improvements seen as crucial to the city, including the long-called for north ring road, the M28 project between Cork and Ringaskiddy and the N8-N25-N40 Dunkettle interchange upgrade.
It will cover plans for the ‘Cork BusConnects programme’ which Minister Ross said: “has enormous potential to transform the bus system in Cork radically by making it much more efficient, reliable and attractive to new passengers.”
“[The Cork metropolitan area transport strategy] will contain proposals relating to all modes of transport, including road network improvements; a revised, more extensive and higher-capacity bus system; enhancements to the commuter rail service, including additional stations; a future light rail corridor; and a number of bus-based and rail-based park and ride sites,” the Minister said. In relation to the plan a spokesperson for the National Transport Authority said: “Work on the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy is continuing and is at a very advanced stage.”
But Mr Ó Laoghaire said: “It seems to me to be a question of priorities, is the Department of Transport prioritizing this or are they more interested in transport projects in Dublin? It seems to me it is the latter.”