Light rail system for Galway still on the table

Transport Minister Shane Ross has confirmed that "his door is open" to the provision of a light rail system in Galway if there is sufficient demand for the service and if a strong business case can be made for the proposal.

The minister made his comments during a recent discussion on the issue in the Dail with local Independent TD Catherine Connolly.

She said the next step in the process is to rise to that challenge and to confirm that Galway needs and wants light rail. A signed petition from the people of Galway and broader support from the business community, including the Chamber of Commerce, will be necessary to achieve this, she pointed out.

Deputy Connolly was speaking at a public meeting on the issue in the city recently.

Afterwards, she outlined that a detailed paper on the provision of light rail is currently being undertaken.

"There is no doubt that the provision of light rail is the most sustainable way forward and will put Galway on equal footing with other European cities.

"Galway is a city that is destined to grow to 124,000 in the next number of years and it makes absolute sense to plan for an integrated and sustainable public transport system now to cater for the population increase, the growing number of tourists and students."

The local TD said she was very "encouraged" by the large turn out at the public meeting which was held at the Park House Hotel.

"It was very encouraging that notwithstanding people's abject frustration with the ongoing traffic problems in Galway, peoples' commitment to a sustainable solution was clearly evident."

In addition to Deputy Connolly and local shop owner Brendan Holland's contributions, there was an interesting presentation by Catherine Gagneaux, the Honorary French Consul in Galway, on the operation of a light rail system in two French cities, Le Mans and Angers.

There was also very active participation from the audience on the night who highlighted the need for an integrated solution which would encompass not only light rail but park and ride facilities in the east and west sides of the city, the reduction of school traffic by the provision of additional school transport facilities; the urgent improvement of cycling facilities and the need to open up direct bus routes across the Quincentennial Bridge.

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