The National Transport Authority will consider an overnight bus service as part of a review of bus services in Galway – named the city ‘with the biggest transport problems’ by the Transport Minister.
Hugh Creegan, deputy chief executive of the National Transport Authority (NTA), has confirmed that separate reviews will be carried out this year on Galway’s bus network as well as Galway’s transport strategy.
“The public consultation process for the review of Galway’s bus network will be undertaken separately and prior to any consultation associated with the planned review of Galway’s transport strategy,” Mr Creegan said.
Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell said: “Galway is crying out for expanded bus services, especially overnight service.
“The people of Galway deserve a safe and affordable public transport option at night. People come and go from work, go home after a meal or an evening.
“Last year we had a national conversation about women’s safety in public, and one thing I heard from women is that they don’t feel safe when they’re move around the city at night. Walking alone can be very intimidating and taxis are not always an option for everyone.
“A regular night bus service would alleviate this anxiety. It would also give an affordable option to those working in the nightlife industry.
“We are in the midst of a cost of living crisis, and the price of fuel is a big part of that – people need real alternatives to using their car for every journey.
“We have seen bus services expand in Dublin, with additional overnight routes added. This commitment to providing a decent public transport service must be extended to the West.
“If we are ever to start tackling the climate crisis and the notorious traffic problems, we need to dramatically improve bus service in Galway and provide people with reliable, affordable and frequent bus service,” Sinn said. Fein TD.
It comes as Minister Eamon Ryan again acknowledged the dire traffic situation in the city.
In the Dáil last week, Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív from the Dáil asked the minister why the transport strategy was going to be reviewed before it was even implemented.
The government’s program is committed to implementing Galway’s transport strategy, which was published as recently as 2016. I understand that the Minister organized a review of this strategy before it was even implemented implemented.
“Can the Minister explain why it was imperative that we proceed with a review of a strategy that was only recently in the making? Is implementation of the existing strategy on hold while we review this strategy and when will the review be completed? asked the Fianna Fáil TD.
These reviews are an ordinary statutory process. These strategies tend to be reviewed every four years. This is a normal occurrence and does not put existing plans on hold under the existing strategy. This is a normal process of evaluating the latest information, including census and other data. I was in Galway recently to meet with the local county council and city council.
“It is recognized that of our five cities, Galway has the greatest transport problems and the greatest urgency. One of the things I have said to Galway City Council is that they must come back to that and that we need acceleration projects that we can do in the next three years.
“Whatever the big plans and long term futures, the here and now is what is important for Galway. Moving things forward like BusConnects, active travel and other projects that we can do within three years is what I really want to push,” the Minister said.
Separately, Minister of State for the Department of Transport and Galway West TD, Hildegarde Naughton (FG), was told by her constituency colleague Catherine Connolly (Ind) that she had ‘absolutely no confidence’ that the NTA would conduct a feasibility study for the rail light in Galway.
“The Minister of State will know that Galway is sinking with traffic. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the country that thrives in terms of employment but is completely mired in traffic.
“There is no sense of urgency with the NTA. Absolutely none. It’s 2022 and we’re slowly looking at Park & Ride on one side of town when in 2005 elected officials voted to roll out Park & Ride.
“A climate emergency was declared years ago now, then there is biodiversity, but we are still looking at unsustainable traffic levels in Galway and no bold action. I have absolutely no confidence that the NTA will carry out a feasibility study for light rail as it is clearly stated that it will not be suitable for Galway. Some 22,000 people signed a petition imploring the then minister to carry out a feasibility study.
“We can’t blame motorists if we don’t offer them alternatives. We need to remove traffic from the road. I am a cyclist but we get bogged down in the minutiae of small bikes, small sections, without looking at the overall scheme of a sustainable city with sustainable transport. People will move if we provide that,” Deputy Connolly said.
Minister Naughton said she shared frustration with progress on public transport options in Galway and that the NTA would present a strategy on Park & Ride to city and county councils in July.