The success of the Christmas Park and Ride scheme has encouraged the Galway City Council to look again at constructing a permanent P&R facility in the city.
The first week of this year’s service, which operates from Ballybrit and allows motorists to park their car there and get regular buses into the city centre, has seen a 74 per cent increase from this time last year.
The success has surprised the organisers and has re-opened the debate on the viability of having a permanent facility which would have the dual purpose of providing transport while reducing traffic congestion in the city centre — which has been identified as a major deterrent to shoppers from outside the city.
According to City Hall, the numbers of cars coming to the Ballybrit P&R facility have increased as have the numbers of people in the cars themselves - overall representing a major increase in use of the service.
“Last Saturday we had 240 cars with 571 passengers, whereas last year on an equivalent day there was 138 cars and 441 passengers,” said a council spokesperson. “People are twigging to the fact that the charge of €2 applies only to the car and not the number of passengers. The uptake in the service has also led to a reduction in traffic.”
As a result, City Hall is again looking at developing a permanent park and ride facility on the east side of the city.
This time it is looking at a site near the Coolagh roundabout at the end of the M6 for development in 2012. Although funding will be difficult to source, the council is hopeful that such a development can happen.
Catering for workers, shoppers and visitors to the City alike, the first bus departs Ballybrit Racecourse at 7:00am, kickstarting the service, which will shuttle passengers to and from the City Centre every fifteen minutes until 9:30pm Monday to Saturday and from 11:00am to 7:00pm on Sundays.
Passengers will be dropped and picked up from Galway Coach Station, which is just a two-minute walk from the Galway Continental Market at Eyre Square and the heart of Galway city centre.
The Galway Transportation Unit is also inviting members of the public to avail of the reduced fares on offer by Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann as part of this combined Park and Ride initiative.