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Controversial car ban suspended until early August amid traffic warnings

This piece contains some my comments on suspending the recent Patrick Street Car ban. This piece was written by Eoin English and appeared in the Irish Examiner.

The controversial afternoon car ban on Cork’s main street has been suspended until early August.

However, the move comes with a warning that the city faces crippling congestion unless it addresses its increasing transport demands.

It follows a special meeting of Cork City Council last night to discuss ongoing concerns about the new traffic arrangements on St Patrick’s St, which have been prioritising buses from 3pm to 6.30pm daily since March 27 as part of the 2013-agreed City Centre Movement Strategy (CCMS).

Despite early indications that some bus journeys were faster, traders said the ban has decimated afternoon footfall and trade.

In a detailed report last night, the council’s director of services in the transportation directorate, Gerry O’Beirne, said more than 100,000 vehicles enter the city a day, with many junctions operating beyond capacity. Two thirds of those vehicles do not stop on the island, but use it to travel north or south, he said.

“At the same time, the city is experiencing an historic surge in inward investment,” said Mr O’Beirne.

“There will be over 5,000 additional jobs in the city centre in the next 36 months.”

It is critical for the future prosperity of the city for the related transport demands to be responded to in a managed way, he said.

“In the absence of an effective response to the additional transport demands the city will experience crippling congestion and the potential for future growth and success will be significantly curtailed,” said Mr O’Beirne.

He said that since the car ban was introduced, bus journey times on the 208 route inbound from the west reduced by 13%, and by 28% inbound from the north. The 205 route also experienced reductions of up to 18%. And when concerns emerged about the impact of the ban, he said the council responded with parking incentives, boosting usage in the council’s car parks by 13%.