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Merchants’ Road bus ban still on the cards


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Merchants’ Road bus ban still on the cards Merchants’ Road bus ban still on the cards

By Andrew Hamilton

The local authority has moved to reassure tour operators that buses will not be banned from city centre, despite changes to the Galway City Development Plan.

A number of councillors raised concerns that an alteration to wording of the Development Plan could result in tour operators being prevented from parking on Merchants’ Road.

Currently, thousands of tourists use a bus set-down area on Merchants’ Road each year.

These non-serviced parking sites do not allow for tour operators to refuel, clean or replenish supplies on their busses and they are prohibited from parking there for a prolonged period of time.

Galway City Council says it is currently investigating the possibility of creating a fully serviced area for tour buses and private commuter coaches, possibly located along the Docks.

The wording of the Galway City Development Plan 2023-29 has been altered to reflect this change, but the local authority stressed that the current arrangement would remain the same until a better alternative can be discovered.

The matter was raised during a ten-hour meeting last Friday to sign off on the Development Plan, which will come into effect at the beginning of January.

“We are working with the tour operators to find an alternative. We need to do a review of the situation. From that [review] we need to identify where we are going to park them [the buses], we need to find that home before we can change the situation,” said Patrick Greene, Director of Services for Roads and Transport with the City Council.

“This wording is for the lifetime of the Development Plan, which runs to 2029. It’s not as if we are going to pull a trigger on January 1, and all the buses will be gone. This is for the years to come.”

A review of tour and coach parking facilities in the city centre is currently underway and is expected to be completed in early 2023.

Speaking at a Development Plan meeting earlier this year, Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath, said Merchants’ Road was “not the optimum place” for tour buses and said a study on the issue would be conducted as part of a review of the Galway Transport Strategy (GTS).

“It is envisaged as part of the review of the Galway Transport Strategy that there will be a parallel study done in relation to tour bus parking,” said the Chief Executive, acknowledging that solutions were needed.

“The street is not the appropriate place to be accommodating [tour buses] other than at licensed stops, where they are leaving people off and collecting people. The GTS review and the study will seek to deal with the totality of the issues.”

The National Transport Authority has granted licences to at least two tour operators to use the Merchants Road site until the end of 2023, so no change in the current arrangement is expected until 2024 at the earliest. The study is expected to be completed before the two licences expire.



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