City Hall chief: 'Building more roads won't solve traffic congestion... it's time for people to use public transport'

City Hall chief: 'Building more roads won't solve traffic congestion... it's time for people to use public transport'
Rush hour traffic in the morning backed up on Wellington Road, Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

BUILDING more roads won’t solve Cork’s traffic woes, according to City Council chief executive Ann Doherty.

Public transport is the only way to reduce the number of people relying on private cars for transport, she added.

In recent weeks, Cork city has struggled with traffic gridlock on many of the major routes around the city.

Recent analysis shows that many of the choked arteries are over-capacity, with the South Ring seeing 87,000 vehicles every day.

Significant increases have also been seen on many other parts of the road network, including the tunnel and Little Island interchange.

It prompted some advocates, including TD Billy Kelleher, to renew their calls for the Northern Ring Road.

However, Ms Doherty disagrees that more roads would solve the problem.

“If we keep building roads and we keep putting people in their cars, we will have congestion. The public transport solution is key to solving the congestion issue. That is what is happening in cities all over the world and we are no different,” she said.

Rush hour traffic in the morning backed up along the way down St. Patrick's Hill, Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.
Rush hour traffic in the morning backed up along the way down St. Patrick's Hill, Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

It is essential to make progress in bus priority measures to achieve these improvements, she added.

“Ask Bus Éireann: where they have free flow in terms of bus-only corridors, they reach great times.

“Then they hit traffic and see delays, causing problems throughout the public transport network. Collectively, we need to buy into bus prioritisation,” Ms Doherty said.

“It is challenging for us in a city where road space is tight. It means we need to have difficult conversations about car use and the role of the car.”

The development of a network of park and ride depots around the city is also a promising prospect — but the bus lanes need to come first.

Ms Doherty said: “The need for out of town park and ride is really important but there is no point in having an out of city park and ride unless you have a bus priority corridor leading out of it. Otherwise, all you are saying to people is that they can get out of their cars to sit in someone else’s vehicle in traffic. That won’t motivate people to do that.”

Meanwhile, a UCC planning expert has also warned that Cork needs a major public transport overhaul. Will Brady of UCC’s Centre for Planning Education and Research said it will require “radical and disruptive changes” to the city to avoid endless urban sprawl.

He said that pending the delivery of a proper public transport system, large-scale developments should be “public transport-proofed” and that proposals with limited or no public transport provision should not be considered.

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