The GLUAS light rail system was “never given a real chance” by City Hall or its transport feasibility study, but it remains a valid option for Galway city and is nowhere near as expensive as is being alleged.
This is the view of Brendan Holland, chairperson of the GLUAS group, who was reacting to Robust Foundations - Galway Public Transport Feasibility Study.
The study was carried out for the Galway City Council by MVA Consultants to “make recommendations the feasibility of developing and augmenting an integrated public transport network, which may include Park and Ride, and Bus Rapid Transit and/or Light Rail”.
The report came down in favour of a Bus Rapid Transit system, which could cost €114 million. It raised questions over the validity of light rail for Galway, given that it’s calculations showed it could cost €698,600,000 - in contrast to the GLUAS’ estimation of €250 million.
Mr Holland said he was “disappointed, but not surprised, with the findings” as “buses have been the preference of the city council from the start”. However he was critical of MVA consultants in how it approached the costing of light rail for the city.
He alleges that there are “areas of concern” and “serious shortcomings” in the report, such as costings which “incorrectly compare 21km of GLUAS with 14.6km of BRT and that there was “no consultation” with the Rail Procurement Agency.
“The consultants never gave GLUAS a real chance,” he said. “The GLUAS approach is based on new technology in light rail which, coupled with more competitive construction costs, results in a system that could be delivered for €250 million. The MVA report labels this as high risk and suggests an overall cost at €699 million, but this is based on the very expensive methodologies employed in LUAS Dublin.”
He said the report also “ignores the economic and environmental factors associated with the carbon credits from use of light rail” and that there are “admission of errors within the report from the consultants themselves”.
However Mr Holland welcomed the statement in the MVA report which says, “In order to develop a better appreciation of any benefits which may be available form such an innovative system (GLUAS ), funding for further development and research in regard to this Light Touch LRT type installation would be appropriate”.
The GLUAS group wants the city council to take this recommendation and “look seriously at the comprehensive case for the GLUAS”. Mr Holland added: “We have a strong financial case to fund the GLUAS while sources of finance for the €115 million Bus Rapid Transit are not even mentioned in the MVA report”.
A number of city councillors have come out in support of GLUAS and said City Hall should “not reject it out of hand”. They said there needs to be an examination into the difference between the MVA figure and the GLUAS group’s figure. As a result the GLUAS group have been asked to address the next council meeting in March on the matter