The part 8 public consultation process on the City Centre Movement Strategy received some 34 submissions when it ran in 2016, including a number of references to potential congestion on the streets near the city’s main thoroughfare. The short window of restrictions was also noted as a potentially confusing element of the plan.
It is now three weeks since the introduction of the changes, which restricts traffic access on Patrick Street to buses and taxis between 3pm and 6.30pm daily to improve public transport travel times. These restrictions are just one element of a multi-year transport revamp for the city centre.
The changes have proven controversial, with city traders claiming it is having a negative impact on business. Bus Éireann has noted improved travel times on some city services since the changes were introduced, however.
City Hall has since introduced a series of parking incentives to encourage shoppers back to the city, including discounts at the city-run multi-storey car parks.
However, many of the current issues emerging in the last few weeks were raised during the part 8 consultation two years ago.
In its submission to City Hall as part of the consultation, Cork Business Association broadly welcomed the plan but stressed that improvements were needed in public transport provision for it to work.
It included a request for changes to Bus Éireann’s fare structures, which have been introduced, and warned that ‘detailed information’ and ‘careful monitoring’ of the changes would be needed due to the absence of physical barriers on the street.
It added: “Changes to Patrick Street will lead to congestion on Washington Street/Grand Parade. Changes will need to be carefully monitored and reviewed to ensure no negative impact on business.
“Time restrictions on Patrick Street are different to Oliver Plunkett Street. Public need to be well informed to avoid confusion.”
Despite the criticism, some 18 of the 34 submissions were broadly in favour of the overall strategy of the City Centre Movement Strategy. Many commended the plans to improve public transport. This included the likes of the Transport and Mobility Forum, the Cork Cycling Campaign, the HSE, YCC, An Garda Síochana and private individuals and traders.
Many of the concerns raised related to adjacent streets, including Daunt Square, Castle Street, North Main Street and Cornmarket Street.
City Hall did make some 14 amendments to the scheme on the back of the concerns raised.