Ambitions to have a light rail system operating in Galway may have been dealt a fatal blow in a new report from the Galway City Council which regards it as far too costly and advocates a new bus system for the city instead.
However Fine Gael councillor and former mayor Brian Walsh is calling on the council not to rule out a GLUAS (Galway light rail ) system as part of its transport plans, urging it too look again at the figures.
The GLUAS system is being spearheaded by the Galway City Business Association and its members feel such a system could carry c12,000 passengers daily on its two city routes.
The group made a presentation to the Galway City Council regarding its plans for the modern tram system. As a result City Hall commissioned a transport feasibility study looking at the costs and practicality of introducing GLUAS, as well as a new bus system, and other forms of transports.
The report proposed a rapid bus transit system for the city and estimates that introducing such a system could cost €115 million over a four year period, whereas it calculates the cost of GLUAS will be c€700 million. This is in contrast to the figure put forward by GLUAS’ backers which believe the cost of introducing the system will be €200 million.
As a result it is likely City Hall officials are now firmly on favour of the bus option and will be recommending it to councillors when the report is discussed at next Monday’s city council meeting. However Cllr Walsh believes GLUAS should not be ruled out yet.
“This is a very positive report in that it sets out concrete options which are fully costed and have clear time frames for implementation,” he told the Galway Advertiser. “I would be concerned however that both the report and the officals appear to come out on the side of the bus rapid transit system as opposed to light rail.”
Cllr Walsh believes this is because of the discrepancy between the figures for GLUAS (€200 million in one estimation and close to €700 in another ) as well as the estimated difference in the cost between the bus system and GLUAS should be examined again.
However he believes the light rail option should be revisited to establish why there is such a variance. He also feels that GLUAS is the better option in terms of “travel times” and getting people around the city rapidly and on time.
“Bus lanes will help but they are still on shared surfaces and that will bring in an element of uncertainty into journey times as there can be delays with traffic in some sections,” he said. “That could turn people away from the system, but GLUAS will certainly be on time and it needs to be examined more.”
The proposed rapid transit bus system will see the development of a principle bus route from Knocknacarra to Ardaun and would involve major changes to how all vehicle users get around the city.
There would be a bus lane from Knocknacarra to the Salmon Weir Bridge. The Salmon Weir Bridge would be bus only. Eglinton Street would then be turned into a pedestrian area with the exception of a bus lane.
Eyre Square would remain as is but include a one way bus lane (exiting the city ) linked to College Road (cars would still be permitted on College Road ). Lough Atalia would also have a bus lane but this would be one way coming into the city. Both lanes would connect with the area around The Huntsman into a main bus lane heading east.
The report also proposes a park and ride facility in Knocknacarra and Ardaun. It also calls for shuttle bus services from points along the main bus route, such as at Wellpark and Roscam and going into the industrial estates