The GLUAS working group, which has been campaigning for a light rail system in Galway since 2007, has made a submission to Galway City Council outlining its disapointment with the proposals for a new Galway bypass.
The chosen route for the new road was revealed in May after it was narrowed down from seven potential routes. The overall aim of the N6 Galway City Transport Project, as this bypass is now known, is to develop a sustainable solution to the congestion issues that exist in Galway city and to better connect the west of Galway (Connemara ) to the rest of the country. Planners revealed at the briefing in May that 41 homes are in line for demolition and 10 more are 'severely affected' by the preferred corridor.
However GLUAS has described the proposal for the new road as 'extremely disappointing'. The group claims it can deliver four light rail lines, similar to the LUAS in Dublin, under a privately funded venture, with no cost to the public purse. A comprehensive business plan has explored all the financial aspects of the GLUAS project, which included talking with high net worth individuals and the European Central Bank.
It proposed that Line 1 of the light rail system would serve Ballybrit, Mervue, Wellpark, Eyre Square, Nun's Island, Newcastle, Dangan, and Rahoon. Line 2, Eyre Square, Newcastle, Shantalla, Taylor's Hill, and Barna. Line 3, Murrouoh, Renmore, Wellpark, Terryland, Newcastle, Shantalla, and Taylors Hill while a fourth line is proposed for the future, once the GlUAS has been established, servicing Eyre Square, Claddagh, Salthill, and Knocknacarra.
In a letter to the city council, GLUAS claims the planned new bypass fails to respond to the Government’s Key Planning Principles. "The proposed ARUP road based 'solution' will take Galway back to the 1950s, not forward to the 2050s, and will worsen, not improve traffic since most trips are wholly in or to the city. The bypass will encourage more local car use, increaseing city centre congestion and pollution, since the number of purely external car trips [outside Galway to outside Galway] is too small to ever justify an outer bypass. The road does not come anywhere near delivering the cuts in fossil fuel consumptions, reduction of carbon emissions or protecting people’s health from toxic motor vehicle fumes, as required by a number of EU directives.''
The group also claims that should plans for the new proposed route go ahead, it would be open to a further European Court Challenge, similar to its previous incarnation, the Galway City Outer Bypass. GLUAS says the fundamental issue which has not been addressed by the consultants involved in the project (ARUP ) is the very high dependency on cars for personal travel in and around Galway. It says there has been no consideration for the policies other EU Cities are adopting to reduce car use, even where car ownership is higher than in Galway. "Given that about 50 per cent of trips in Galway are under 3km long, and over 70 per cent are under 8km long, there is considerable scope for sustainable modes of travel like walking and cycling, given safe and direct routes. Similar sized EU cities have up to 25 per cent of trips by bike, unlike the three per cent in Galway.''
GLUAS is also bemoaning Galway's lack of public transport options. "While not everyone can walk or cycle, eg. the elderly, and parents with young children, accessible public transport demonstrated daily in Dublin and many other EU cities, that people will leave their cars at home for local trips that can be made by convenient and attractive public transport. In Dublin 80 per cent of city centre visitors arrive by public transport, including LUAS, and only 20 per cent by car. The bus does not fully address this role, since people with cars will not use buses. Only 10 per cent of all trips in Dublin are by bus, and nearly the same number are made on two LUAS lines, with a third bring built. In Galway only 5 per cent of trips are by bus."
The ARUP study regarding the new N6 Transport Project has dismissed GLUAS as 'too expensive'. However the group is questioning how the consultants are comparing a privately funded GLUAS (with no cost to the public purse ), and a road scheme that will cost about €700 million to taxpayers?
The GLUAS team has also repeated its offer to meet the city council team. "We remain ready to discuss a practical approach to the delivery of GLUAS, for the benefit of Galway citizens moving about the city, and for the benefit of their health by the significant reduction of toxic transport emissions."