CORK Chamber has warned that the city cannot continue to have 70% of its commuters travelling by private car.
Speaking ahead of the publication of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS), the Chamber President Bill O’Connell said the city needs to create an environment that offers opportunities and choice for commuters and residents in how we access, and travel within and around Cork.
The landmark CMATS document was due to be published last year but is now set to be published by the end of March.
A Luas-style light rail system, new rail stations and park and ride, continuous bus lanes, a full cycling network and new road projects are all included in the strategy which will take years, even decades, to implement in full.
Earlier this week, the Evening Echo reported that the entire transport plan will cost €3.1 billion to implement but the project has a positive benefit-to-cost ratio of 2.9 — meaning it could bring an almost €9 billion boost to the local economy in the years ahead.
“The Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy has been signalled as a game-changer for Cork, a precursor to significant public transport infrastructure and network investment on a scale never before seen in Cork,” Mr O’Connell said.
“This is the opportunity for Cork as Ireland’s fastest growing City to plan proactively to meet our full potential and to enable Cork’s transition to a sustainable European city of scale.”
He said the Cork business and wider community will need clarity and transparency around the delivery timelines for the projects included within the Transport Strategy.
“All you need do is look at the Cork City skyline and you can see the growth happening all around. There is an urgency in moving these projects from a strategy to shovel ready projects. Now is the time to be proactive,” he said.
The CMATS plan was also raised in the Dáil this week, with Cork South Central TD Michael McGrath asking the Minister for Transport Shane Ross for an update on the project.
“The strategy will include a range of proposed transport interventions across all modes of transport, along with complementary measures including transport demand management, Intelligent Transport Systems and Park and Ride,” Mr Ross said.
“I understand from the NTA that a draft Transport Strategy will be published for public consultation in the first quarter of this year.”
It is understood that the development of residential accommodation in the Docklands will be crucial for the viability of any light-rail tram system linking Ballincollig to Mahon via the city centre and Kent Station.
It is also clear that the adoption of a Land Use Strategy would be crucial to the success of CMATS by ensuring that development would occur in areas which could be well served by public transport.
The Southern Regional Assembly recently published a draft spatial strategy for the entire southern region up until 2031 and said the CMATS is a “game changer” for metropolitan Cork.