At 8pm on 24th September in the Harbour Hotel Galway West TD Catherine Connolly will hold a second public meeting to discuss public transport as the most viable solution to Galway’s traffic problems, and in particular the provision of a light rail system.
Following the first public meeting at the end of last year, Deputy Connolly undertook a signature campaign on the streets of Galway in order to clarify whether the public was behind such a project. Over the course of a ten-week campaign Deputy Connolly said she was overwhelmed by the level of support notwithstanding the appalling weather on occasions. She was joined on the streets by a group of active volunteers, the majority of whom are not affiliated to any party, who freely gave of their time.
Deputy Connolly said it was a short focused campaign during which over 21,000 people queued up to sign the petition calling on the Minister to carry out a feasibility study for light rail. Parallel and in cooperation with this campaign, the GLUAS team, led by the Chairperson Brendan Holland, has continued to examine the technical and financial side of this proposal and will be publishing its report in due course.
Deputy Connolly said that the signature campaign arose directly from the Minister of Transport’s response to a Dáil question last November that there was no demand for light rail in Galway and his challenge to the Deputy to come back and to demonstrate that the demand existed. Deputy Connolly said the people of Galway have clearly risen to that challenge and shown that there is a demand for light rail.
The outstanding challenge then, said Deputy Connolly, remains to convince both local and national government that Galway’s traffic problems would be best alleviated by the provision of an integrated public transport system, including the roll out of a light rail system, the immediate provision of park and ride facilities on the west and east sides of the city, and the lifting of school traffic from our city streets. The failure to date to give any serious consideration to light rail has actively contributed to the intolerable traffic congestion in the city. Now is the time for the government to listen to the people and to act on their leadership.
Light rail has transformed cities throughout Europe and it will do the same for Galway, said Deputy Connolly. It will give an entirely new green image to Galway and will provide positive opportunities for urban renewal and development leading to increased population densities. This is in keeping with both the spirit and the detail of the Government’s national development plan, Ireland 2040, which has specifically mentioned Galway as one of the five cities destined for growth. Moreover, our commitments under climate mitigation legislation oblige us to take both immediate and long terms steps to reduce our emissions and a light rail system will go a long way towards achieving these objectives.
The public meeting at 8pm on Monday night in the Harbour Hotel is a further step in the campaign for an integrated public transport system, including light rail, for Galway. It will also be an opportunity to hear Professor Ulf Strohmayer from the Geography Department at NUIG speak on the subject and for the GLUAS team to update on their work to date. Deputy Connolly is appealing to everyone, including public representatives, to attend the meeting and to join the campaign.