Traffic gridlock and lack of adequate taxi rank spaces at Ceannt Station is “chaos” and will result in someone being injured if nothing is done, warned director of services Ciarán Hayes after outlining proposals for a new taxi rank at Fairgreen Road, which is hoped will alleviate the problem and make the area safer for the public.
Mr Hayes gave the warning at this month’s meeting of the Galway City Council after presenting the amendments to the Appointed Stands (Street Service Vehicle ) Bye-laws which proposed changes in relation to taxi ranks at Fairgreen Road, Bridge Street, and Renmore Avenue. After lengthy discussion, councillors voted unanimously for the adoption of the amendments with the exception of those proposed for Renmore Avenue.
The new rank at Fairgreen Road will provide spaces for 14 taxis on the south western side of the roadway. The scheme will include a pick-up area at the top of the rank in a newly designated area at the junction of the access road to Ceannt Station and Fairgreen Road, a shelter adjacent to the head of the rank for patrons, and improved pedestrian connectivity to Ceannt Station comprising a newly contrustructed footpath on the south eastern side of the Ceannt Station access road. It is further planned that this new footpath will link to the new pedestrian link to be provided by the Ceannt Station Improvement Scheme, between the boundary of the City Council/CIE property and the Ceannt Station building. Revised exit arrangements are currently being designed by Irish Rail which would result in passengers using ticket validation machines at a newly developed passenger entry/exit point to the station. It is intended that the new taxi rank will also serve persons using the new Coach Station.
Although plans for the new rank at Fairgreen Road was welcomed by councillors some expressed concerns, including Cllr Billy Cameron who highlighted the “problem with connectivity with the station” and asking if more shelter could be provided to protect people from the weather. Taxi driver Cllr Frank Fahy also questioned the logic of locating a rank at this location adding that “it’s a long way for someone who is disabled or in a wheelchair as it’s going uphill” adding there would have to be very good signage.
In response Mr Hayes said that a proposal for a sheltered walkway to the rank would be a separate issue to the bye-laws and that it would not be possible as it is not all council land. He explained that the plan is about providing a rank to improve transport services, especially around Ceannt Station, as having a small rank directly across from the station is causing “chaos at the moment”. He added there is serious concern for the health and safety of passengers who currently are getting off the trains and trying to access a taxi by moving between moving buses and other vehicles. Councillors were also told that the proposals will provide disabled access and are in compliance with the Barcelona Declaration.
The amended bye-laws will also provide for 17 new taxi spaces on the northern side of Bridge Street, between the junctions with Dominick Street Lower and its junction with Market Street. The new rank has been constructed at this location as part of the Bridge Street Enhancement Scheme which also includes improved pedestrian facilities and junction improvements.
Proposals for a taxi rank at Renmore Avenue was met by stern opposition from councillors, including Cllr Terry O’Flaherty who welcomed the unanimous support to exclude the cutting back of the green area, adding that the plans were not suitable for that area. She added that last year local residents had made it quite clear that there was no requirement to have a 24 hour taxi rank and presented a letter from the chairman of the residents association reiterating this opposition. Outlining his objections, Cllr Michael Crowe, who is chair of the Transportation Committee, proposed that councillors agree to the recommendations with the exclusion of plans for a rank at Renmore Avenue. This was seconded by Cllr Costello.
“I have pushed for the provision of increased taxi ranks, bus services, cycle lanes over the years. However, I will not support any application that involves removing part of this green area in Renmore which this proposal involved. This area has been preserved for generations and it is my intention for as long as I am a member of Galway City Council that this will remain,” said Cllr Crowe.