THE merits of the Patrick Street car ban have come under the spotlight again amid renewed calls for the scheme to be scrapped.
CITY councillors remain divided on the car ban with some calling for it to be reduced or completely reversed during a debate at City Hall last night.
The car ban is in place from 3pm to 6.30pm each day on the city's main shopping street.
City councillor Paudie Dineen proposed that the ban on private cars is scrapped at weekends and Bank Holidays, while Tim Brosnan (FF) called for the overall City Centre Movement Strategy strategy to be suspended as it is “not delivering efficient public transport”.
Mr Dineen said he has met with traders in the city centre and they are concerned at the impact on business.
"Three prominent business closed in the city centre recently. You can see there is definitely a fall-off in trade and there is no harm in meeting the traders halfway,” he added.
Mr Brosnan said he believes the car ban has been a “failure”.
“I’ve heard the small traders are having trouble. One big company that is looking at a big development is now looking at a refit instead. We have to back down on it. A lot of the public think Saturdays and Sundays are not included.”
He added he felt the ban is “taking Patrick Street off the public”
Des Cahill (FG), who is working at the English Market, said he has noticed a reduction in trade post 3pm.
“I am standing behind a counter in the city and whether it’s logical or not, the problem is real. I cannot stand over it any longer while bus routes are being prioritised and none are being put along the quays.”
However Solidarity representative Fiona Ryan said: “Bus passenger figures are up. It is working. We are returning Patrick Street to the people, not taking it away.”
According to Chris O’Leary (SF) suspending the car ban or the CCMS would be “cuckooland” while Thomas Gould (SF) said before the ban was in place he could drive into the city centre and wait in heavy traffic for his wife and daughters shopped without ever having to park.
City Hall director of roads and transport Gerry O’Beirne said the Council has not banned motors from Patrick Street and the city centre, it has merely restricted private cars at certain times.
“The city is going to grow and is going to need a better transport system," he said.
“Our job as a Council is to modernise the transport system in the city so more people can use it. Patrick Street is a part of that. Bus passengers numbers have been increasing significantly. Passenger number have reached 14m compared to 10m in 2013.
“It shows that bus services are needed and if services are improved people will use them,” he added.
Both Mr Dineen’s and Mr Brosnan’s motions will be sent back to the Council’s transportation functional committee.