As the Deputy refers to, a transport strategy for Galway city was prepared by the NTA, in partnership with Galway City Council and Galway County Council, in 2016. Development of the strategy was informed by a wide-ranging public consultation with interested stakeholders and the public.
The strategy sets out an overall framework for the development of transport infrastructure and services in Galway city and its environs over a 20-year period.
I very much welcome the type of evidence-based approach in transport planning in the major cities and, in particular, the co-operation between the NTA and the relevant local authorities in developing these strategies.
The Galway transport strategy supports opportunities that will reduce congestion and car dependency through increased capacity of reliable and sustainable public transport and the promotion and facilitation of cycling and walking, which, in turn, promotes the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The strategy considered that bus-based public transport represents the most appropriate system for Galway over the period of the strategy. It concluded that a high-quality bus-based public transport service will cater for the forecasted passenger demand and will provide significant flexibility in network options and the ability to integrate with other modes.
Project Ireland 2040 provides an indicative allocation of €200 million to support the development of a BusConnects programme in Galway. This will deliver a rationalised network of five high-performing cross-city routes. All routes will serve major city centre attractions as well as linking all major destinations across the city. Galway BusConnects will comprise next generation bus lanes, enhanced services, cashless fares and account-based ticketing. A network of park and ride sites, serviced by the more efficient bus network, will also be put in place.
A work programme to guide the implementation of the Galway transport strategy is currently under development by the local authority. I am informed by the NTA that it had been hoped to publish this programme last month; however, the programme is still under development and will now be published later in the year.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
I am as anxious as the Deputy that implementation of the Galway transport strategy begins in earnest but I recognise the need to ensure that implementation is conducted in a planned and co-ordinated manner. I am advised by the NTA that the implementation of the proposed infrastructure development required by the strategy will be approximately five years.
In advance of that, Galway can benefit from the increased funding I am making available to support improved PSO bus services and fleets, as well as the increases I have secured to improve cycling and walking infrastructure.