Time to rethink Cork's loss-making Park and Ride

Time to rethink Cork's loss-making Park and Ride
The Black Ash Park & Ride loses €250,000 each year. Pic: Larry Cummins

ONLY one-third of the city’s park-and-ride spaces are being used, new figures have revealed.

Despite increased calls for better transport options to reduce congestion in the city centre, statistics have shown that motorists are turning away from the existing park and ride option.

The 940-space park and ride at the Kinsale Road roundabout is losing approximately €250,000 per year.

Figures show 130,199 vehicles used the facility last year, an average of just 356 per day, or just a third of the overall spaces.

Former Lord Mayor Terry Shannon said City Hall needs to link with city businesses to turn the tide on the struggling Black Ash facility.

Mr Shannon said that the status quo is not good enough.

"The fact is, this facility is often at less than half capacity. Even before we open the gates at the start of the year, we are down €250,000. That is a huge loss for the city to sustain," he said.

In recent weeks, Philip Gillivan, the new president of the Cork Business Association, called on city traders to consider a customised gift card scheme to encourage trade.

A similar initiative is in place in Letterkenny, encouraging people to shop and eat locally.

Mr Shannon said this could be bundled with an incentive to use the park-and-ride.

"We could offer free parking to people who had shopped or eaten in town, for example," he said.

"Simply present your receipt when you come to the park-and-ride to collect your car and it can be validated to send you on your way.

"Free on-street parking in town just wouldn't work; we have seen this as people just occupy spaces all day. It doesn't encourage people to come in and shop. But a park-and-ride equivalent could be a success."

In recent weeks, rugby and soccer fans made use of the park-and-ride when Cork City and Munster played matches in Turner's Cross and Musgrave Park, respectively.

Mr Shannon said initiatives such as these can introduce people to the park-and-ride and boost future use.

"We can see the interest in it, the Christmas use is proof," he said.

"It is just about adding to that offering by getting city businesses or those in Mahon Point to use it for their staff, or the GAA for big matches in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

"Once people realise how safe, secure and convenient it is, they'll come back time and time again."

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