The Draft Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy was published last month
Limerick Chamber has expressed concern that the draft Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS), in its current form, does not support the goals set out in Project Ireland 2040 or the National Climate Action Plan.
Furthermore, the Chamber believes that the draft strategy, which was published by the National Transport Authority at the beginning of September, does not reflect anticipated long-term changes to work and transport patterns arising from widespread adoption of remote working practices by employers.
The Chamber, which was briefed by NTA Chief Executive Anne Graham last week, is calling for the progression of the strategy to be paused.
This is, the Chamber believes, necessary to take into account the priorities of the current government as distinct from the previous regime, as well as implications from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The draft strategy has also been criticised by Fine Gael councillors.
Limerick Chamber Chief Economist Dr Catriona Cahill said: "The world has changed completely since the NTA was originally instructed to complete this strategy in early 2019. The Chamber would like to see time allowed for the new Transport Minister, Eamon Ryan, to refine the new government’s objectives in relation to carbon emission reductions and growth in sustainable transport so that these may be appropriately reflected in the strategy".
Dr Cahill says changes to work practices due to Covid-19 need to be considered in the context of the strategy.
"The business community feels that many of the remote working practices which have been adopted by organisations through the pandemic will remain with us into the future and, as such, the transport strategy must reflect these critical shifts in commuter behaviour. In our view the current draft LSMATS requires substantial changes to make it fit for purpose. While we welcome the emphasis in the document on improved bus transport, we have a number of concerns," she said.
Limerick Chamber says it is concerned that the current consultation period, which ends on October 30, will be the only opportunity that Limerick citizens have to participate in decisions on a transport system.
"As it currently reads, the draft strategy assumes that future population growth will continue to be largely concentrated in suburban areas outside of the city centre and is written to support population growth in those locations. This emphasis, we believe, undermines other efforts to encourage and support compact urban growth, which is a crucial ingredient in breathing new life into our city centre. The Chamber is committed to achieving a thriving urban heartbeat in Limerick and building a future city that people want to visit and live in for generations to come. A comprehensive, sustainable urban transport system is a vital component for future Limerick," said Dr Cahill.
Limerick Chamber is engaging in an extensive consultation process with members and stakeholders and is facilitating a Transport and Mobility Forum. The Forum, which comprises representatives from across the Limerick-Shannon metropolitan region, is seeking to identify common concerns and shared ambition so that we strive for the strongest possible strategy to support Limerick’s future growth.