CORK should be developing a light rail system to meet the growing demand for public transport in the city.
Former Lord Mayor, Cllr Mary Shields, said the development of a Luas on Leeside would future-proof Cork for several decades of population growth and would ensure that an expanded city has a properly functioning public transport.
Cllr Shields was responding to a report on bus use in Cork city, which showed that the number of passenger journeys is continuing to grow, with 12.6 million journeys recorded on bus services in the city last year.
City officials confirmed that the city has seen a 5% growth in use across the network so far this year, too.
Cllr Shields said that the demand is clear to see.
"It is evident that we need more buses, especially in areas like Bishopstown, where we have third level colleges and huge demand," the Fianna Fáil councillor said.
"We should be looking at a Luas style system, especially if the city is to expand to include Blarney and Glanmire and other areas."
Other councillors backed the call for investment in a transport network.
Fine Gael's John Buttimer said that the current set-up does not have much room for improvement.
"Some services, especially those late at night, were reduced because the usage was as low as 20%. What you need for a good service is a high-density population. What we have a is a low-density sprawl."
Despite the positive trends, though, a number of elected members criticised the bus network in Cork city.
Sinn Féin's Chris O'Leary said that buses were not reliable, in particular on some busy routes.
"Often on the 202, people are unsure when standing at the bus stop if the bus is every actually going to arrive. We are are trying to move people towards buses from cars and cycling, but if the bus isn't there, the car won't be left behind."
His colleague Shane O'Shea added, "The increased number of passengers is useless if people aren't giving up using cars. We don't see any benefit if both of those numbers remains high."
A number of councillors raised concerns about cancellations and reliability, too.
Solidarity representative Fiona Ryan said, "Frequent cancelled buses and full buses not stopping is the reality for a lot of people."
Officials at City Hall said that the increase in use across the bus network is the result of investment by Bus Éireann and the NTA in to the likes of real-time information, travel apps, the new fleet and leap cards.
Rerouting and increased frequency, in particular on busy routes to and from Mahon and Apple, has also resulted in more use.
However, an official conceded that there were challenges in improving the bus service in an unplanned city, namely that of traffic, and said that 'deficiencies' have been identified on the bus network in Cork.