Councils advised to take ‘baby steps’ on bus lane

The Parkmore Road junction on the N17.

Fears have been expressed that the development of a bus lane from Claregalway into the city is such a huge project that it will never get the funding required to get it off the ground.

Instead, a leading private bus company has advised both Galway County Council and Galway City Council to take “baby steps” when it comes to providing a bus lane and to do it in separate phases.

It was announced that a bus corridor along the N17 from Claregalway to Wellpark in the city is at a detailed design stage – however, there is no funding in place for such a project to proceed.

According to Pat Burke of Burkes Buses, who cater for around 2,000 passengers each day on their service between Tuam and Galway, has advocated that a bus lane be provided between the Parkmore junction and the old Leader’s shop which would take 20 minutes off the journey time.

“While it would be great in theory to provide a bus lane all the way from Claregalway to Wellpark, but the fact that this process would involve compulsory purchase orders . . . it would take years and years before it would get to a planning stage.

“We have made countless submissions asking the authorities to prioritise a section of the N17 from the Parkmore junction into town and this in itself could be provided relatively quickly”, Pat Burke told the Connacht Tribune.

Recently, senior officials of Galway City Council, who are the lead agency in this project, announced that the Claregalway to Wellpark bus lane was at detailed design stage.

It was stated that the first phase of the project would involve the construction of a bus lane from the village of Claregalway to the junction at Fleming’s Motors. This phase, they say, could be done relatively quickly as compulsory purchase orders would not be needed as far as Castlegar Church.

The second phase, to run from Fleming’s to Wellpark, would involve CPOs and would therefore take much longer. The bus corridor is a joint project between the County and City Councils, but the City Council is leading it.

If the project proceeded, it could potentially eliminate the right turn up Parkmore when coming out of the city and this has raised some concerns. It is to be discussed further at the September meeting of Galway City Council.

The bus corridor has been mooted by several roads officials with both Councils in the past but it never materialised. This is the first time such a proposal has gone to the design stage but there is no commitment of funding from the Department of Transport for it to proceed.

But Pat Burke believes that by doing it section by section would increase the chances of some works proceeding. He has been onto senior roads officials to prioritise the section from the Parkmore junction along the N17 into Castlegar.

“What they are having designed at the moment is a monumental project that may never see the light of day because of the complexities involved. If they took baby steps and concentrated on the section from the Parkmore junction into town, it would be of huge benefit,” he said.