THE number of cars on Cork’s roads has increased substantially from this time last year, according to data from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
Last Friday, the volume of traffic on the N40 from Kinsale Road to Douglas was 60% higher than it was on the same date in 2021.
The road is one of 15 monitored for the national daily report, which is compiled by analysing data from traffic counters and cameras.
The counters clocked 14,655 vehicles on the N40 from 7am to 10am on February 4, 2022, compared to 9,325 on February 4, 2021.
Sean O’Neill, TII, told The Echo that the figures show traffic to be nearing pre-pandemic levels. However, there is evidence that remote working is causing the usual heavy traffic times to stagger slightly.
“The morning commuter corridors going into Cork and Dublin were down 10% overall for the year,” he said.
“We don’t know where people are going with these stats but if we’re down 10% in the morning commute you can deduce that that’s because people are still working remotely.
“The commuter periods are kind of fazing out and staggering across the day.”
Economist and UCC researcher Frank Crowley said that remote working cannot be depended on as a solution to traffic issues.
“As a city we are very car dependent, with three out of four trips being taken by private transport every day,” Mr Crowley said.
“Remote working was never going to be a panacea for this and has been completely overblown as a potential solution to this problem, so it’s not surprising to see traffic levels return to levels experienced pre-pandemic.
“These patterns continue to point to a city with decades of inadequate investment in public transport and sustainable active travel and a failure to plan for future population and employment growth.
“The public transport deficit in the city region will likely impede future growth.”
According to the National Transport Authority, the number of people using public transport is still well below pre-pandemic levels nationally at around 60%.
However, Bus Éireann’s Cork City services are currently operating at about 75% of pre-pandemic capacity.
Green Party councillor Oliver Moran said that he’s hopeful this year’s plans for Cork City will encourage more people to use public transport.
“Last month, €46m was announced for Cork for walking and cycling in the year ahead. The new citywide bus routes and ticketing system are also going to be announced this month. That will be followed by bus priority measures to improve the reliability of public transport.
“An overriding principle of the transport strategy for the city is to prioritise sustainable and active travel and reduce car dependency.
“Public transport is a backbone of that and an absolute must is to make it attractive and affordable for people.”