We need to improve public transport and reduce traffic congestion.

Comhaontas Glas / The Green Party.
Traffic building up at the Headford Road Roundabout Traffic congestion in Galway is beginning to match that of other major Irish cities. We should act now before it gets out of hand.

Towards a Galway Transport Initiative

Niall O Brolcháin first proposed the introduction of a Galway Transport Initiative as an integrated approach to transport planning in Galway. The purpose of this initiative is to produce a 25 year integrated transport plan for Galway to help solve the transport crises and the associated environmental problems. All sectors of our society especially the community sector must be involved in this process for it to work properly.

The Greens are strongly in favour of public transport. Niall has made proposals for a Quality Public Transport system from Barna to Oranmore, via Knocknacarra, UCHG, NUIG, Galway City centre, the Industrial estates, and GMIT. This would start out as a Quality Bus Corridor and eventually be upgraded to a Light Rail System.

He is also working on plans for a Western Rail Link. This will be a frequent rail service from Derry to Cork via Sligo, Galway and Limerick. Phase one will run from Tuam to Cork via Galway City, Gort, Ennis, Shannon Airport and Limerick.

Niall would like to see the mainline rail service between Dublin and Galway upgraded so that it becomes faster, more frequent, more reliable and more comfortable. This would require upgraded rolling stock and double track continuous weld rails to be extended from Portarlington to Galway.

Niall is strongly in favour of providing facilities for cyclists and pedestrians as these are the most environmentally sustainable and healthy forms of transport.

Many people who work in Galway City, live in Kinvara and other towns on the opposite side of the Bay. The Greens would like to see a regular ferry service between Kinvarra and Galway City. This would also be very popular with tourists.

Children, older people and disadvantaged people are often forgotten about in the rush to build bigger and faster roads. Niall believes that this is unacceptable.

Niall is against the proposed Galway City outer bypass as it would cause enormous environmental destruction and could not possibly solve the transport problems of Galway City.

Niall is in favour of upgrading the access routes to all parts of Connemara.

Galway should not allow itself to be left out as light rail systems are implemented elsewhere. Galway city in the future?

Light rail system for Galway (City Tribune 21/7/2000)

The lack of a quality public transport option in Galway City is something I find very disappointing. The land use and transportation study commissioned by Galway Corporation didn't give much cause for optimism either. It found against light rail, a solution very much in favour in many EU cities of a similar size to Galway.

However, the authors of the report spent little time examining this option and only costed the routes from Tuam and Gort into Galway. The report did not consider a route within the City boundaries. It is obvious from reading the report that it's sole aim was to act as a marketing document for the proposed 5th road-bridge over the Corrib. The report chose to propose a totally unrealistic light rail option and then proceeded to pick holes in it, a pointless exercise in futility and a waste of taxpayers money.

The key to any public transport system is reliability and the key to reliability is a dedicated route. There is little or nothing to entice commuters out of cars if they have to sit in the same traffic jam on a public vehicle instead. However, if they can sit on a nice clean comfortable tram, which has a dedicated route, is reliable and gets them home more quickly, then there is an obvious advantage.

Also, we surely have a responsibility as a society to provide quality public transport for those who don't have access to private transport. This includes our children, some elderly people, those who can't drive, cycle or walk including some disabled people and those who cannot afford private transport.

Obviously the route of a light rail line would have to be carefully looked at but the growth of Oranmore and the proposal to locate a new airport there would make it an ideal starting point for a tramline. The line would need to take in the industrial area around Ballybritt and then pass close to Eyre Square and Shop Street. The University is an also obvious place to stop, then the route could go onwards to Knocknacarra and Barna. A loop line taking in Salthill would be an obvious option from a tourist point of view.

As to how one would cross the Corrib, I certainly wouldn't be bold enough to suggest a 5th bridge. Using a cantilever system, any of the existing ones could be used. The cost of all this would be considerably less than the proposed outer ring road and would probably do a lot more to reduce traffic congestion in Galway City centre than an outer ring road would.

An outer ring road would only cater for those who have no intention of visiting the City centre anyway, whereas a light rail system would cater for those who wish to use the City and those who wish to go from one side to the other.

At present there is every opportunity of siting large park and ride facilities on both sides of the City, as space is currently available. But as the City expands, this option will become increasingly more difficult.

The Light Rail option is a serious one and at the very least it should be examined and given a fair hearing.

A light rail tram Light rail is the transport of the future. We should look to the future and start planning for a light rail system now.

Western Rail Link (City Tribune 25/8/2000)

Since the foundation of the state the mainline rail network has been allowed to run down. This has been almost entirely due to the policy of successive Governments and their love-ins with the private car and with centralisation.

At present, all but two scheduled passenger services emanate from Dublin. These are the very successful commuter service between Cork and Cobh and the weird and wonderful service, which runs between Limerick Junction and Rosslare.

Galway once had a variety of rail services available as one can see at the newly refurbished Station House Hotel at Clifden. Nowadays it just has the singular poorly scheduled service, to and from Dublin. There is massive scope for improvement.

Interestingly, there is a rail line between Galway and Limerick Junction, which is only used for freight at present. This line is not suitable for passenger trains except for the portion between Ennis and Limerick Junction. However, the cost of upgrading this existing line, would be minimal, compared to building a new one.

The fact that there are no scheduled rail services between Galway, Limerick and Cork, Irelands 2nd, 3rd and 4th cities is in my view a national disgrace. Shannon Airport could be easily linked in for good measure. The potential for tourism is enormous and the development of the Western region as a whole would greatly benefit by the introduction of such a service.

If you look at the map of existing mainline rail services in Ireland what you see is something, which looks like half a bicycle wheel. The hub is in Dublin with all the spokes heading out beyond the pale. This is a very graphic example of the system of central government, which exists in this country at present.

To complete the half bicycle wheel analogy, we need a rim to the wheel. A train service from Kerry to Derry, taking in Cork, Limerick, Shannon, Ennis, Galway, Castlebar, Sligo and Letterkenny would not only provide a vital boost to decentralisation of services in Ireland. It would also act as I have already mentioned as a major boost to the West and as a boost to cross- border co-operation.

Funding for the line from Galway to Derry would potentially be available from the EU, as it would be part of the inappropriately named BMW region. Various funds to promote cross border co-operation may also be available.

People who live outside Dublin are constantly complaining that it sees itself as the only place worth mentioning in Ireland. Places like Galway City are just handy places to visit for a weekend, to hear some folk music and to get drunk with the occasional race meeting or arts festival thrown in for good measure. However, there are as many people living along the proposed Western Rail Link, as live in Dublin. The problem is that they are dispersed and do not exert as much focussed political pressure. That will have to change for real decentralisation to become a reality.

The Western Rail Link has the potential, to act as a bedrock on which genuine decentralisation could be built and as such it must be commended as a worthy project.

The proposed Galway City outer bypass was opposed by the vast majority of respondents to the public consultation process. Yet it is still being pushed forward. It is highly unlikely to do much to solve Galways transport problems as most of the traffic is created by people travelling to and from destinations in the City. The proposed outer bypass of Galway City

An arial view of Galway City The clear reason for the building of an outer bypass of Galway City is to provide access to vast areas of land for further development. It is our view that this is unnecessary at this stage and that the environmental costs would be too great.

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