A Public Transport Plaza for Galway, and Park and Rides could ease city congestion

A Public Transport Plaza for Galway, and Park and Rides could ease city congestion and boost bus passenger numbers 

The forum - entitled Public Transport: Where Can it Take Us - in the Radisson SAS Hotel, was addressed by Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport Paschal Donohoe, along with national and international transport experts. Local business, tourism, cultural and community representatives also shared their views, in a lively discussion of the matter.

Bus Éireann CEO Martin Nolan officially unveiled the company’s policy document, 10 Routes to a Better Public Transport Future – a T25  (Transport 2025) plan to double passengers number on the Irish public bus transport system in next 10 years. This includes prioritising investment in public transport to support regional economic growth, the development of a regional transport plan, a partnership approach to public transport and more bus prioritisation measures.

Bus Éireann Regional Manager West, Brian Connolly outlined a number of possible proposals to improve the current figure of 8%* of the county’s population, who currently use public transport in Galway.These include a possible public transport plaza in Eyre Square – like that mooted for College Green in Dublin – and the exploration of four possible Park and Ride sites on periphery points of the city, where the majority of private cars enter from.

The main proposals featured:

  • Bus Rapid Transit Lite
  • A Public Transport Plaza in Eyre Square, open only to public transport
  • Enhanced bus priority corridors, to include a bus lane inbound on Lough Atalia and outbound on College Road
  • Four permanent Park and Ride facilities, at Galway Clinic, Tuam Road, Moycullen Road and Barna Road
  • East to West city bus priority measures

Bus Éireann CEO Martin Nolan said it was vital that a concrete vision and blueprint for regional transport – outside of Dublin and the East – is developed, to ensure increasing congestion in regional cities is addressed, and that connectivity remains: 

“We held this event today to generate discussion about public transport in our regional cities and counties, and what the future of this should be. We invited our stakeholders to participate today and help shape our ideas about future public transport.

“As the economy continues to recover, it is essential that regional development and investment remains high on the agenda. Public transport use outside of our capital is among the lowest in Europe. Today is about seeking solutions to this challenge and incentivising an increased uptake of public transport options.” 

Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe – whose department recently completed a strategic framework on future investment for land transport – said the focus of transport policy, and the issues being faced, have changed in recent times.

“Today’s event is an ideal occasion to discuss the role of public transport in the development of balanced regional economies, and how it can support economic development in places like Galway and elsewhere around the country. After several years of lower transport demand and constrained funding due to the economic downturn, we must now support our growing economy with an efficient and effective transport system.

“Having secured additional capital investment of €110 million for public transport as part of the 2014 Supplementary Estimate for my Department, I was able to obtain further extra funding of €100m this year, €60m of which was allocated to public transport. I committed to avoiding further reductions in the Public Service Obligation funding for our transport companies and ensured that in Budget 2015, funding was maintained at current levels.”

The forum also heard from Hanne Bertnes Norli, a director of strategy and development at Ruter, the public transport management company in Oslo & Akerhus, Norway. Norli highlighted the fact that public transport journeys had increased by 40 million in the last four years, as private car use levelled off - or showed small increases - in the regions of Oslo and Akershus. This was achieved through a number of measures including ring road toll revenues, increased public transport financing, common regional approaches and customer focused development. 

Dr. William Hynes of Future Analytics Consulting, told the forum that Ireland needs to reverse previous development trends, and link land use and residential and business development with public transport systems, to encourage a modal shift from private cars. He said that the three new regional assemblies nationwide have an important role to play in the development of integrated transport management programmes and that infrastructure, service provision and locational demand could boost bus use. 

*Most recent CSO figures 

Monday, 31st August, 2015