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Lack of bus service leaves residents feeling “like animals in cages”


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Lack of bus service leaves residents feeling “like animals in cages” Lack of bus service leaves residents feeling “like animals in cages”

Thousands of people are being denied access to a bus because of a lack of progress on a bus turning circle in one part of Knocknacarra, leaving some residents feeling like “animals in cages”.

Councillor Donal Lyons said he has held multiple meetings with Galway City Council, City Direct and Bus Éireann in a bid to push for the major obstacle to creating a bus route for the Upper Ballymoneen road where 12 estates are located.

Two estates with plans for over 100 houses, one of them proposed by Galway City Council, were turned down due to lack of services which made residents too car dependent.

Last May, the Independent councillor’s motion calling on the City Council to enter negotiations with landowners to explore all options to create a bus turning bay on Ballymoneen Road was passed unanimously.

BusConnects, the first major overhaul of the bus network for years, published a plan to introduce buses to the Upper Ballymoneen Road, but Cllr Niall McNelis questioned whether this would ever go ahead without a bus turning circle.

City Direct has the licence for buses to run in the area but some years ago cancelled the route due to safety concerns of bus drivers as well as passengers caused by buses reversing into estates for the return journey.

One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the lack of a bus service was causing incredible hardship for young and old in Ballyburke.

“We have to walk 1.3km down to Knocknacarra to a bus stop at Ashleigh Grove. Then struggle back up that hill again to get shopping, bring kids to school, get to work.  We call it ‘heart attack hill’ it’s so steep. Parts of the road up here have no footpath,” she fumed.

“I know old people and people in wheelchairs who can’t get out because they don’t have a bus. The houses keep being built but still no space for a bus to turn. Nobody cares. We don’t all have cars.

“The government want us to walk, cycle, take buses, but they don’t put in footpaths, cycle lanes or buses. It’s so crazy. Many of us are prisoners in our own homes. They treat us like animals in cages.”

Cllr Lyons said there is not a month that goes by when he doesn’t have a plea from a constituent to help get a bus service.

“Older people really struggle up that severe hill, it’s a slog. They have to get their groceries delivered or pay for a taxi. We’re not talking about a major amount of land – maybe an acre or less,” he insisted.

“I really think Galway City Council should examine a Compulsory Purchase Order to create a turning circle – there is a public demand for it, the public are seriously missing out.”

The BusConnects consultants are due to give a presentation on the draft routes to city councillors at the May meeting.

“To my mind it puts the whole BusConnect proposals under question if they don’t provide a service for the thousands of people who live in this area. And that won’t happen if there isn’t a safe place for bus drivers to turn.”

Cllr Lyons said he also wants a revision of the draft route to introduce direct late-night buses between Knocknacarra and Salthill. Currently buses on the 410 finish just after 6pm.

“We have a state-of-the-art cinema, we have the Prom, people want to go swimming, go for a drink, go the many restaurants in Salthill. There is a proposal to run evening buses from Cappagh Road to Salthill but that takes in only a very small part of Knocknacarra, it’s only tokenism.”

Director of Services for Roads and Transport, Patrick Greene, previously told councillors that the National Transport Authority, which is in charge of rolling out BusConnects, was assessing all routes and the infrastructure needed.

Queries over changes to the bus routes in Mervue were also raised by Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) at a local authority meeting last week.

He said it would run through an established estate and made no sense.

The new route would enter old Mervue by Connolly Avenue, down Barry Avenue and then take a left up Tone Avenue and left again at Parnell Avenue to the main bus stop. The bus will then exit down McDermott Avenue and onto Connolly Avenue before heading onto Michael Collins Road.

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