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Traffic levels levels in Galway have surpassed pre-pandemic levels


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Traffic levels levels in Galway have surpassed pre-pandemic levels Traffic levels levels in Galway have surpassed pre-pandemic levels

If you are killed complaining about the traffic in Galway, you have every reason to.

The new Galway Economic Monitor shows that traffic volumes on the Galway road network surpassed pre-pandemic levels this year, reaching a new high of 113,414 journeys per day in March.

This was over 6,000 more journeys than the 2019 high of 107,310 journeys and over 10,000 more journeys than the 2022 high of 102,755 journeys.

An average daily traffic count of 92,942 journeys was recorded on seven main thoroughfares in Galway in April 2023, an 8% hike compared to the same period of 2022.

At the same time, we were using public transport a lot more.

A total of 4.2 million journeys were undertaken by bus and rail in the last three months of 2022, a 15% increase on the previous quarter. This growth of 549,500 trips was driven by an expansion of 345,000 bus journeys (up 18.5%) and 204,500 rail journeys (up 11.5%). It’s back up to 93% of the pre-pandemic level of 4.49 million journeys in the same quarter of 2019.

The big surge in traffic and public transport usage is related to the increase in the number of people working in the region. Total employment in the West – Galway, Mayo and Roscommon – reached a new peak in the final three months of last year and a seven-year high. The number of employed residents in the region increased to 225,700 – this was up 3.9% on the previous quarter and represented a jump of 11,848 (+5.5%) on the same period the previous year.

With more people getting jobs here, the pressure on housing has intensified. The report serves as a stark reminder how dire the housing situation remains, with just 896 “housing commencements” for the whole of 2022 – a decline of nearly 28%.

“This is likely a reflection of soaring construction price inflation and limited affordability amongst prospective buyers,” the report reflects.

Having reached a low between July and September, construction began on almost 200 new houses in the final quarter, a nearly 70% increase.

The Galway Economic Monitor funded by the Galway Chamber of Commerce and compiled by Grant Thornton will be a twice-yearly publication which will bring together publicly available data in a user-friendly format that can be used by investors as well as a tool to measure performance across a range of different markers.

Chamber CEO Kenny Deery said the cost – €20,000 for the first year – would be worth it for the benefits the report would bring.

“Up to now you could ask ten people what are the housing figures, the traffic volumes, the economic activity around the port and you would get varying answers as there was no standard set of figures in a single report which could be compared over time to see if trends emerged,” he explained.

“This way we can look at progress – or lack of it – in specific areas. Certainly, in our messaging it allows us to lobby far more effectively because we can make arguments based on concrete data.

“Yes, the data is publicly available but who knows how to navigate it, who knows where it is. This report comes from a multitude of sources. A significant amount of work went into both from the Chamber and Grant Thornton.”

Each report will look at different aspects of economic data and will contain opinion pieces based on the data collated. The next one will contain bank card spending to ascertain spending patterns in Galway.

“It’s a really useful document if an investor was potentially looking to come to Galway. For the first time we have a cohesive to look at how things stand, how they are progressing. It will allow us to hold the local authority much more to account if we’re not seeing figural improvements

Aengus Burns, partner with Grant Thornton and former president of the Galway Chamber, said by tracking statistics over a period of time it was much easier to identify trends.

“I think it’s a very useful tool for the chamber members, it’s for debate and discourse which can be distracted by inappropriate facts and figures. This is something that helps us see things as they happen and in the right context over a period of time we can see trends.”

He was particularly struck by the seven-year peak in employment – up 9% in 2022 for the three counties, which was a remarkable increase.

There could be an argument that Galway had full employment as the number of people on the Live Register would never be zero. There remained 8,785 people on the Live Register in March, a decline of 3.8% on February.

The Galway Economic Monitor was launched at the inaugural West in the Capital – a networking event between the Galway Chamber and Dublin business people, which was attended by Galway Oireachtas members as well as key civil servants.

The inaugural edition is available on the Galway Chamber website

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