By Declan Tierney, Connacht Tribune
The opening of the new motorway was supposed to reduce travel times between Tuam and Galway – but this has not been the case, as one bus company has testified to.
In fact, one of the biggest bus companies in the county has experienced increased delays along the N17 as a direct result of the motorway opening.
“It is significantly worse,” admitted Pat Burke of Burkes Buses who carry more than 2,000 passengers a day between North Galway and the city. “It has not helped the situation at all,” he added.
The bus owner said that while access from Tuam to Claregalway had improved considerably, the rest of the journey to the city was “a nightmare”.
It seems that those who use the motorway from Tuam are not willing to tolerate the backlogs at the Doughiska roundabout and are instead branching off at Carnmore and heading to Claregalway.
“So now we are looking at a situation in which we have a build-up of traffic from Claregalway to the city which we did not experience before this. It has just made a bad situation worse in my opinion,” Mr Burke added.
The motorway opened just over two weeks ago and was supposed to be the alternative to a bypass for Claregalway, but it seems that this is not the case as the junction in the village is now at chaos point. That is why there is now increased pressure to provide a designated bus corridor from Claregalway to the city – the new motorway is simply not reducing commuter time into Galway.
“Getting from Tuam to Claregalway is definitely better as far as we are concerned, but then the nightmare starts. There seems to be more traffic coming to Claregalway from the Oranmore direction and the build-up into the city has increased significantly.
“We are not experiencing any benefits that the new motorway has to offer and we are finding it increasingly difficult to get our passengers into work for nine o clock in the morning. It is a mess,” Mr Burke said.
There are currently moves to provide a designated bus lane between Claregalway and the city and this is being mainly driven by Galway City Council – chiefly to facilitate those who work in Parkmore. But 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. According to Mr Burke, the problem could be solved by providing 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,” he said.