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Huge Support for Integrated Regional Transport Initiative for Galway and its Region

Calls for Great Southern Hotel, Eyre Square to be returned to CIE
Huge attendance brands meeting a success says Labour


Press Release from Michael D Higgins TD

At last Thursday's nights meeting in the Great Southern Hotel, Eyre Square, a capacity attendance filled the ballroom to discuss the proposal for an Integrated Public Transport System for Galway and its Region.

Organised by the Labour Party, speakers included Stephen Murphy, C.I.E. General Manager Routes Southern and Western Rail, Brian Guckian. Light Rail Researcher, Colmán Ó Raghallaigh of West on Track and Michael D. Higgins T. D. who introduced the proposal and chaired the meeting.

The City Council Development Plan, The Galway County and Galway City Council Transportation and Planning Study, the City Council Submission to the Department of Finance, the Rail Strategic Study, the Galway Bus Strategy Study; the proposals of the Spatial Strategy and Transport 21 were all summarised and presented to the meeting.

The timescale of these different Plans, Reports and Consultancies are not the same. While they refer to each other they are not integrated in terms of their assumptions. While the Ardaun Corridor and Settlement area is mentioned in nearly all there is a real concern that this building block in the City Council's and the Transportation Study's proposals has not been agreed or finalised.

There was unanimous agreement on the need for the planning and delivery of Integrated Transport to be brought under an Integrated Regional Transport Authority to which the different planning authorities, in both physical and transport planning would make their submissions.

Such an Integrated Regional Transport Authority that could taking social as well as economic considerations into account in planning for the region and could, plan for the medium and long term as well as the short terms of five years to which City and County Development Plans are directed.

There was unanimous agreement on the need to ensure that the 14 acre Ceannt Station Site for which C.I.E. have sought proposals from the public through Murray & O'Laoire Architects be reserved for present and future transport needs.

The integration of the Great Southern Hotel with the site of Ceannt Station as a modern Regional Transport hub offered a magnificent opportunity, it was felt, to have a 21st century integrated transport centre for Galway and its region.

The need to co-ordinate existing bus and train timetables was raised by some of the large number of commuters who attended. There was discussion also on the needs of those with a disability and the particular problems of rural dwellers in this regard.

Proposals were put forward for better secure and safe facilities for cyclists. The representative of Iarnroid Eireann, Stephen Murphy said that issues like these could be solved in the short term.

The discussion showed that there were in fact a significant number of proposals that could be implemented in the immediate short term. These included the implementation of bus lane proposals, which needed to be brought forward as an immediate priority, rather than being made to wait until road proposals had all be completed.

Many speakers called for a National Transport Authority of which the National Roads Authority would be one accountable part.

Reporting on a recent set of Dail Questions, Deputy Higgins told the meeting that in the context of Transport 21, which is the Governments blueprint for transport in the National Development Plan, no proposals were with Government for even a feasibility study for light rail. The meeting was in favour of the City and County Council's receiving a presentation on, and seeking funding for, a feasibility study for Light Rail.

There was a welcome for the inclusion of the Western Rail Corridor on a phased basis in Transport 21. It was felt, however, that work could begin immediately on phase one and phase two between Claremorris and Ennis. The building of a new station at Oranmore has been accepted in principle in Transport 21, the meeting felt that this was an essential part of the Transport Proposals and should begin immediately.

The vision of a new Ceannt Station, offering integrated bus and rail facilities with provision for cyclists, pedestrians and car parking and drop off drew enthusiastic support from all present.

The meeting heard of the capacity of the new centre to be a real regional hub combining light city rail, commuter services, light rail, integrated bus services and a first class facility for catering and other services as the Great Southern Hotel is returned to C.I.E.

The feeling was unanimous that Eyre Square's Great Southern should be returned by the Dublin Airport Authority from the general tendering process which closes on June 23rd; that C.I.E should open discussions for the reacquisition , and that the local authorities in the region should support this proposal.

The meeting unanimously endorsed the general proposal for an Integrated Regional Transport Authority for Galway and its Region and pledged to continue the campaign for it.








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