Several progressive transport initiatives are to be undertaken in Waterford in an attempt to boost business activity in Waterford city centre.
Park and Ride is an option that is already working in other cities and has been advocated in these columns many times in the past. It proved a great success when the city played host to the Tall Ships Race.
Encouraging more park and ride is an objective of city authorities across the country and would appear to be a logical step forward for Waterford. We already know that the matter has been raised and discussed in-depth by Councillors and City Hall officials.
Waterford Chamber of Commerce President Andrew O’Neill believes that parking charges in the city are reasonable and that the recent meter parking charges have reduced parking costs as you can pay for a fraction of an hour.
For less than a euro, drivers can conduct some short-term shopping and a parking price that is very affordable. Mr O’Neill also said that, in general, the city’s car parks are not as expensive as those in other cities.
Some public transport enthusiasts back a Luas-style solution for Waterford and we note that Minister Martin Cullen favours such an option.
But the possibility of a light-rail service in the city is, presumably, many years away yet. It would take so long to put the infrastructure in place and get approval from the Government that other more solutions must be put in operation as soon as possible.
For example, Bus Éireann favours a double bus-type operation, which could cater for 40 or 80 passengers similar to the flexi bus system that is popular in Germany and Austria.
Sites will need to be located for people to park their cars to avail of such a service. A location close to the Regional Sports Centre is one of the areas suggested for a park and ride facility. The Outer Ring Road has also been mentioned.
When it comes to city centre parking, the imminent redevelopment of Plunkett Station will mark another positive step, with a remedy to the chaos of exiting the railway station. This was discussed in a meeting between the City Manager and CIE Chairman John Lynch last Friday.
While improved car parking at Plunkett Station would be welcome, it could only go hand-in-hand with an improved traffic management system on the roundabout, which could involve the installation of further traffic lights.
A short-term parking solution could be provided at the North Wharf, whose sale fell through last week. A temporary car park on the site could become part of a city park and ride system and is surely an option worth exploring.
In the meantime, Government funding is awaited for the pedestrian bridge which will connect the North Wharf to the Quay at the Clock Tower.
When this bridge is in place, motorists could park on the north side of the river and use this pedestrian bridge for access to the city centre. This pleasant stroll across the river could be an ideal method for reaching the city centre from the Ferrybank side.
The loss of the North Wharf sale must lead to new thinking on the Port Authority’s behalf.
The Airport Road/Ring Road area has also been mooted for a park and ride service, where major development plans are afoot, as reported here last week. With public transport companies committed to investing in improvements to their services along some of the city’s busier routes, the development of ‘Green Routes’ by the City Council is heartily welcomed.
The more transport options that become available, the better the traffic flow should prove into the city, thus increasing the vibrancy and prosperity of Waterford.
Creating a ‘living’ city can be made possible by getting more people into it to shop and enjoy the facilities, without creating bumper-to-bumper traffic in the process. With the will of the powers that be on board to make such a change possible, there’s little doubt that this can be achieved.