This Thursday at 8pm I am hosting a public meeting in Park House Hotel to discuss a light rail system as a fundamental part of the solution to Galway’s traffic problem. The meeting is open to everyone and is an opportunity for people to have their say on this issue, and to come on board to make light rail service a reality.
Having undertaken extensive research it is clear that light rail is the way forward for Galway, a city that is specifically identified in the draft National Planning Framework: Ireland 2040 as one of five cities that will have a significant increase in population. Indeed, according to the draft plan Galway’s current population of 80,000 will grow to 140,000 in the near future. Cities of similar size throughout Europe have already embraced light rail or are in the process of construction. Cosenza, for example, with a population of 70,000 and a hinterland of 275,000 will deliver 10km of track for approximately €100m by 2020.
Such a system for Galway would be a catalyst for change, transforming the very nature of the city, determining planning and development and improving quality of life.
Moreover, the rolling out of light rail in Galway city will help to achieve our emissions targets under our binding climate change obligations.
In this context and in the context of providing sustainable transport solutions, the response of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, in the Dáil last week was significant and encouraging. I specifically asked the Minister his views in relation to the provision of light rail in Galway and whether a cost benefit analysis had ever been carried out. While confirming that no analysis had ever been undertaken the Minister went on to say that he would be delighted to review the case for light rail and openly invited Galway to confirm that there is both a demand and an economic case for it.
Clearly the Minister has confirmed that the door is open for light rail which is very positive. It is now up to us to come together and show that it can be done.
I would encourage everyone to come along and have their say.