Luas-style tram system for Galway is ‘not appropriate’

National Transport Authority says such a project would be expensive and inefficient

A view of Galway city centre. The National Transport Authority has said developing a Luas-style tram network to serve the  city would be ‘inappropriate’.   Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

A view of Galway city centre. The National Transport Authority has said developing a Luas-style tram network to serve the city would be ‘inappropriate’. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 

The National Transport Authority has said developing a Luas-style tram network to serve Galway city would be expensive and “not appropriate”.

The authority also said that traffic congestion was an issue in the city due in a large part to commuters’ overreliance on private cars.

Anne Graham, the authority’s chief executive, told the Oireachtas committee on transport on Wednesday that several factors contributed to Galway city centre’s traffic issues, including poor public transport and poor cycling routes.

She also cited the small number of bridges crossing the Corrib, and the fact that local, regional and national traffic was routed through the city centre, as were vehicles coming to and from Connemara.

The committee heard that the 2011 census found that there were 27,561 people using private cars to get to work in Galway city, and that this had risen to 27,914 by 2016. The number of people walking, cycling or taking the bus to work was about 20,000 in 2016.

Ms Graham said a Luas-style system was “not appropriate” for Galway at this time. She said a study had shown a potential volume of 1,100 passenger journeys per hour for such a service, which would be about one-third of the capacity of a light-rail system.

‘Highly inefficient’

Ms Graham said it would therefore be a highly inefficient solution, which came with capital costs 10 times greater than those for an improved bus system.

She referred to a current transport strategy involving the creation of bus and cycle networks and improved public transport in the city.

The authority would be watching Friday’s announcement of a National Development Plan “to ascertain what funding is available to deliver on the recommendations in the strategy”, she said.

Kevin Kelly, chief executive of Galway County Council, told the committee the case for the Galway bypass had been accepted by most people and an extensive amount of planning had already been done for the project.

He said it was hoped to submit the plan for the bypass to An Bord Pleanála by April and that construction could be complete by 2024. He said the mood in the county had changed from “is this necessary to when will it be happening”.

“The delivery of this transport solution is absolutely essential for Galway’s future,” he said.