Traffic congestion in Galway “will get worse before it gets better”, which is why “significant investment” in public transport is vital to combat the personal, environmental, and economic toll gridlock is taking on the city.
This is the view of the Social Democrats Galway City East councillor, Owen Hanley, who said the promised review of the Galway Transport Strategy must result in resources being made available to the city to deliver public transport solutions.
The Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, has stated his intention to review the strategy adopted in 2016, but Cllr Hanley is also calling for more information on any resources that could become available as a result of that process.
Cllr Hanley said such investment is required given that figures from the Central Statistics Office show public transport makes up only 7.8 per cent of journeys in Galway city. He also noted that, while planning permission is to be sought from An Bord Pleanála for the Cross City Link from UHG to Eyre Square (with a construction period of 12 to 18 months ), only two of the five cross-city public transport routes - the Dublin Road Bus Corridor and the Cross City Link - have high levels of usage.
Furthermore, the Dublin Road Bus Corridor section of Bus Connects, a 4km pedestrian, cycle, and public transport infrastructure scheme from the Martin Roundabout to Moneenageisha Junction, is not likely to go to construction until 2024.
"The Dublin Road Bus Corridor is a vital piece of infrastructure carrying busy city, county, and country wide bus routes,” he said. “Crucial to addressing congestion is making public transport a fast, cheap and accessible option and so I find the timelines concerning."
Cllr Hanley said the Tuam Road, Western Distributor Road, and Monivea Road public transport routes were “crucial”, and that the National Transport Authority and the Minister must “commit increased capacity to move these projects along” in tandem with the Cross City Link and the Dublin Road Bus Corridor.
Cllr Owen Hanley.
"There are short term interventions to be expected such as in Parkmore with improved public transport access via Monivea Road and Doughiska Road,” said Cllr Hanley, “plus an internal bus route in Parkmore, but we need to see public transport placed at a higher priority to deliver the infrastructure at the pace and scale Galway needs."
Cllr Hanley said Galway Bus Connects, combined with projects like the upgrade of Ceannt Station, provide “important opportunities” for “significant positive change” to Galway's transport demands. However, he said the city needs “resources and the will from the very top to see them happen”, and he said the Galway Transport Review must be “focused on making this a reality”.