I am as frustrated as anyone with the congestion that grips Galway and that has the potential to choke the city’s social, cultural and economic development. I am acutely aware of the need to implement improvements urgently to the city’s transport network, centred on the hierarchy of pedestrian, cyclist and public transport. While the Deputy will know that I am long aware of these issues, they were reinforced yet again in meetings I have had with various representative and interest groups from the city and region since assuming office. I am determined that my Department will provide the right type of policy framework and the overall levels of funding required to enable delivery on the ground by local authorities of the infrastructure set out in their various transport strategies.
This summer’s July stimulus, I hope, provided a signal as regards our intentions. I emphasised the need for the rapid roll-out of active travel measures and allocated significant funding for that very purpose. During the summer, I met with Galway City Council and urged it to take advantage of this funding and roll out new and improved active travel infrastructure to support local communities and businesses as they learn to live with Covid. July’s stimulus also contained additional money for new and improved bus services, including in Galway, and I know the NTA is continuing to develop and plan those services with the operators.
While the local authority is at the heart of delivering change in Galway, I know central Government needs to support it in ways over and above pure funding and needs to consider issues such as technical support. In this regard, this year, the NTA established a park and ride development office, which is working with local authorities to deliver park and ride in all the cities, and that office is also working with Galway City Council.
I am also aware that the county council, in co-operation with Iarnród Éireann, is also exploring options to further improve facilities at Oranmore station. From conversations with other Deputies from the Galway area, including the Minister of State, Deputy Naughton, and Deputy Grealish, I understand that park-and-ride facilities were introduced on the site of Galway Airport. This was close to the Parkmore Industrial Estate and the route travelled by some coming in from the east of the city. I am interested in hearing from the Deputy as to why that project did not progress after its operation on a trial basis. These are practical quick wins we should be looking at as potential ways of delivering facilities.