Launching the results of the second comprehensive Traffic and Travel Trends Survey, Galway, in as many years, Dr. Chris Coughlan, Chair of the Galway Chamber Traffic and Transportation Committee outlined the objectives of the work undertaken in conjunction with the Department of Civil Engineering at NUI Galway:
‘The objectives of this Survey were to investigate travel to work patterns for employees working in the large business parks in the east of the city (Parkmore, Ballybrit and Mervue). It represents the continued efforts of Galway Chamber to investigate and address the issue of traffic congestion in the city recognising the negative impact that this congestion can have on the economic growth of the region.
‘It follows on from a broader survey that was conducted in 2014 wherein the travel to the city business parks was identified as an opportunity for additional public transport in the city. Thus measures that will help alleviate traffic congestion are critical to Galway,’ he said.
The objectives of the Survey were:
- to investigate in greater detail the travel patterns of people who work in the major business parks in the east of the city.
- To examine the feasibility of additional bus routes as a means of bringing people to/from work.
- To make some broader recommendations around traffic in the industrial parks with specific reference to the congestion currently experienced at Parkmore.
The Survey was carried out in spring 2016 and had a very large response rate with a total of 2125 replies from workers at the business parks. The assistance of the Parkmore Traffic Action Group is greatly appreciated as it facilitated the distribution of the survey to organisations at that Park. The participation of other key stakeholders including Galway City Council and public transport providers is also acknowledged. Galway Chamber is appreciative of all those who took the time to complete the survey.
Among the findings were:
There is a very high dependence on the car with 77.9% driving to work. 10.5% take the bus to work, 4% take the bike and 2.9% walk. The vast majority of these are people who live in the city. However, less than 1% of people living in rural areas travel to work in the city by bus.
The survey compared travel times to work for those who live in the city. For most of the urban areas, it was found that travel by bus takes twice as long as the car. This clearly a dis-incentive for bus usage.
Travel patterns for those living in the west of the city and working in the east were carefully examined. While commuters are interested in travelling by public transport, it does not appear that there are a sufficient number travelling to ensure a viable direct bus route. Thus, a bus route over the Quincentennial Bridge is not recommended. This is also consistent with the recently published draft transport plan for the city.
See full survey results for all findings HERE
These findings lead to a number of recommendations which will be critical in decongesting the city and enabling future expansion of the business parks:
- A bus lane should be introduced in Parkmore and this would enable buses to have very fast travel times into Parkmore in the morning and exiting in the afternoon.
- There is a significant opportunity for a Park & Ride from some suitable location on the eastern edge of the city and going directly to Parkmore. This would benefit the more than 2,500 people who work in Parkmore and who live in rural east Galway. A fast travel time with a priority route (bus lane) would be critical to its success.
- There is scope for additional bus routes on the east side of the city to the business parks.
- More must be done to facilitate, promote and encourage sustainable forms of transport. Working with the employer organisations a travel behaviour change campaign should be developed within each of the business parks which is focused on:
- The promotion of public transport, walking and cycling to work.
- Facilitating sustainable modes with the provision of showers, lockers, bike parking etc.
- The opportunity to have greater staggering to start and finish times in the workplace will help to spread the traffic load over a longer time thus reducing congestion.
- Greater promotion of car-pooling including incentives.
- The introduction of challenges and events to encourage modal shift.
- More detailed planning to shorten bus journey times to make it more attractive.
Regarding the impact of the recommendations Prof. Padraic O’Donoghue of NUI Galway said:
‘Galway has a particular challenge with people working in one area and living in another and this is both an urban and a rural issue. There is a need for a long-term strategy to provide places of employment closer to centres of population.
‘With regard to implementation of recommendations, it will require the various stakeholders to act on proposals as part of an action plan. Ultimately the move towards a more sustainable transport system is the key issue as this will decongest the city and will have a positive impact on the economic and social well-being of Galway’, he concluded.
The complete survey results are available on HERE.