Councillors dismiss proposal for cars to be allowed travel on Seamus Quirke Road bus lane

A proposal by Fine Gael councillor Pearce Flannery to try to allievate traffic congestion on the Seamus Quirke Road has failed to get the backing of Galway City Council, despite impassioned pleas from a number of local representatives. Cllr Flannery wanted the National Transport Authority to consider piloting a scheme whereby cars with three or more people could travel on the bus lane on Seamus Quirke Road. He believes this would encourage commuters travelling from the west side of the city to work on the east side to car pool. He has spoken before about the length of time it takes to cross the city at rush hour.

At a previous meeting of the city council, the absence of a direct bus linking the west and east was lamented by councillors. There are two bus services, but both of these travel via Eyre Square. Speaking at Monday evening’s local authority meeting, Cllr Flannery said the council could not control the bus service but they did have control of the bus lane. “I am proposing this on a pilot basis to see does it expedite the traffic problem. Let’s do it for three or six months and if it does not do anything fine, but if it does well and good.”

He said it was pitiful that people are sitting in their cars for hours to make such a relatively short journey. “There is an onus on us as councillors to try and come up with solutions to traffic problems. We are doing too much talking and not taking enough action.”

Councillor Donal Lyons said he wished the bus companies would entice people out of their cars. Councillor John Walsh remarked that the bus lane was currently ‘redundant,’ while fellow Fine Gael councillor Peter Keane said he was fully supportive of the motion. Clearly frustrated, he outlined that it had taken him 36 minutes to travel less than a kilometre in that area that morning. “This council is being treated with contempt by bus providers that are not providing proper bus services from west to east. Why not open it open to cars on a pilot basis, and see will it relieve the pressure on commuters, we will never know unless we dip our toe into the water.”

Fianna Fáil’s Michael Crowe was against the move. “While it is a popular thing to do, it is too simplified and we will probably see in two to three months that it is not working. There are safety issues here. Is the bus lane designed for cars? Where do the cars go when they leave the bus lane, sure they are just going to have to re-join the normal traffic, and that is another safety concern.”

Councillors Ollie Crowe, Frank Fahy, and Terry O’Flaherty all voiced concerns over how the initiative would be enforced. Director of services for transport, Joe O’Neill, said he commended Cllr Flannery for trying to come up with a solution to the traffic problem. “Car pooling is certainly something that should be promoted in the city but not in bus lanes. It can’t happen at the expense of public transport. I would be concerned about this suggestion in terms of how it would affect the bus service already there. What we are trying to do is make the bus lane on the Seamus Quirke Road as successful as the 409 on the east side. More than one million people use that service every year. There is no point spending a lot of money on bus prioritisation and then doing something to jepordise that.”

The motion was defeated by eight votes to seven.


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