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Big jump in numbers taking the bus in Galway

Denise McNamara

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City bus

The Bus Éireann fleet across the city saw a 9.3% increase in passenger numbers last year despite a fare hikes. That was on top of a 14% increase the year before.

The massive growth has stunned bus management, who instituted a radical overhaul of the bus routes in March 2012.

The steady growth of 2013 is set to continue, with the numbers increasing by an average of 7% in the first five months of this year, according to Bus Éireann headquarters in Dublin.

The most up to date figures show approximately 3.5 million passengers travelled on the city’s Bus Eireann buses for 2013.

The complete overhaul of the bus network saw routes change to more direct runs in and out of Eyre Square, straightening out the routes and making the timetable easier to follow by making buses leave on the hour or half hour.

The fleet was also improved and the timetable adapted to ensure the buses had enough time built into the schedule to minimise possible delays.

While there was no real increase in the number of buses, they were used more efficiently. The use of 20 real time display boards has also proved popular among the public, already achieving 96% accuracy.

“We’ve seen a massive increase, it’s been phenomenal. It’s surprised even ourselves,” exclaimed Bus Éireann Regional Manager Brian Connolly.

“We improved reliability and we made the system easier to use so we expected numbers to go up. But when you think the 409 Doughiska bus carries 1.1m passengers annually in a city of 75,000, it’s huge.”

More double decker buses will be added to the busiest routes this year to ensure peak-time buses are more comfortable. The routes that will likely benefit from the extra capacity include the 409 (Doughiska), 402 (Knocknacarra to Merlin Park) and the 405 (Ballybane).

In the Autumn, smartcards will be introduced, which will give passengers greater discounts if they pre-purchase journeys. In the last three years, the use of weekly or monthly travel passes has doubled, Mr Connolly revealed.

Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel

CITY TRIBUNE

Party-goers in Galway hit with Covid fines

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has issued a renewed appeal this week for young people to desist from organising or attending any house parties as the local Covid-19 situation worsens – last week Gardaí were called to break up a number of gatherings in different parts of the city.

A total of 15 people were found to be attending one house party in the Salthill area last weekend while Gardaí were called to two other smaller gatherings – one in the Doughiska area and the other in Rahoon.

Cautions and Fixed Payment Notices (fines) were issued to a number of those involved. This week, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley has pleaded with young people ‘to stay away at all costs’ from such gatherings.

“We have very high Covid incidence rates in the Galway area over the past week; death rates from the disease are at their highest ever level; and the last thing we need now is groups of people coming together in confined settings.

“If one person has Covid at such a gathering then, in all probability, most others there will pick it up too and spread it their contacts and family members. I am pleading for people just not to do this.

“We are entering into our most critical period in trying to contain the spread of Covid-19, with the next month or so absolutely vital in our efforts to keep everyone healthy and safe and to try and avoid further loss of life,” he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Community gives new lease of life to Merlin allotments

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – In 2018, the allotments in Merlin Woods were in danger of falling by the wayside, with declining numbers and underuse blighting a facility that had huge potential.

Since then, the community has pulled together to create a space that locals are proud of and one that its advocates are hoping could be a template for other communities across the city.

Chairperson of the Committee behind this new lease of life is Michael Tully, who says the allotments have become a focal point for area, bringing together locals from all walks of life.

“It’s all about netting the community together and the response we’re getting has been unbelievable,” says Michael, who joined the committee in 2018.

“I started off as a user of Merlin Woods, walking by the allotments and thinking to myself that it would be great to grow my own fruit and veg.

“I started talking to a few of the plot-holders like John Rabbitte, Martin Lohan, Jim McCormack and Daithí O’Brien and they told me how to apply. I applied to the City Council and got my allotment in early 2018 and there were about eight allotments in use at that stage, all of us working away on our own.”

Two years later, all 42 allotments are in use, but it took the cooperation of Galway City Council and Trojan work from the community to get it to this point, explains Michael.

“We came down here every Saturday to clear the paths, dig out the weeds and make the place better. The sense of community was unbelievable. Anyone who couldn’t dig was bringing down flasks of tea and cakes to those that were,” he laughs.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

National Transport Authority to progress Galway’s Park and Ride

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A dedicated unit established within the National Transport Authority will look at the potential of Park and Ride to help solve Galway City’s traffic congestion problem.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said that Park and Ride facilities should not be restricted to the east, and sites needed to be located to the west and north-west to take account of commuters from Connemara.

Mr McGrath said Park and Ride would be advanced this year as part of the Galway Transport Strategy. He said that the Council, in conjunction with the dedicated unit within the NTA, would investigate feasible sites for the location of Park and Ride facilities.

Mr McGrath said that site selection and acquisition of land could commence in the second quarter of this year. He said he expected that Park and Ride would be progressed well before the Galway City Ring Road was built.

Director of Services for Transport, Ruth McNally, also said that the NTA was looking at the potential of sites in the city for Park and Ride and she insisted that money – or a lack of it – was not halting progress.

“Money is not a major issue for capital projects,” she said.

They were responding at Monday’s City Council meeting to councillors who lamented the slow progress on developing Park and Ride.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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