Posted by Dara Bradley, Connacht Tribune in News.

Galway Chamber and Galway City Council are in negotiations about the potential for Galway Airport to be used as a permanent Park and Ride facility, it was confirmed yesterday.

A senior City Hall official has confirmed that the local authority is looking at the possibility of using the Carnmore facility as a base for a Park and Ride service to take workers and commuter traffic off the city’s streets.

The service based at the airport would possibly be rolled out on a trial or pilot basis initially, said Director of Services for Transportation and Infrastructure, Ciarán Hayes.

Meanwhile, Mr Hayes has revealed to the Connacht Tribune the full cost of the Volvo Ocean Race Park and Ride service, which he said ran successfully from Ballybrit to Eyre Square for a week during last month’s sailing festival.

The figures show that close-on 40,000 passenger trips on the Park and Ride shuttle bus were made to and from the city centre to the racecourse during the seven-day Volvo Grand Finale.

Mr Hayes said that the total cost of the Park and Ride for Volvo was ‘just short’ of €220,000; and the net cost to Galway City Council of providing the shuttle bus service to the city was between €150,000 and €175,000. For comparison he said the net cost of the Christmas 2011 Park and Ride was in the region of €100,000.

The director revealed that the original tender agreed with Bus Éireann was a contract worth €236,000 but he said there were discount arrangements built into the contract and so the Council only ended up having to pay €154,000 to the bus company. It is in the process of paying that bill.

The reduced amount paid to the company was because a clause in the contract allowed Bus Éireann to put on extra buses at certain times, which were not subsequently needed, and changes to frequency of the buses. That represented a saving of around €70,000 for the Council, he said. The income generated from tickets sales was about €55,000, although children U16 and the elderly travelled free.

Aside from the bus costs, the other costs to the Council include renting of the car park at Ballybrit, as well as staff wages and security. “The total cost of the Volvo Race Park and Ride was €220,000, and the net cost to the City Council between €150,000 and €175,000,” said Mr Hayes.

He said it was money well spent because the Park and Ride took thousands of cars off the road during one of the busiest festivals ever in the city.

Mr Hayes confirmed that the success of the Volvo and Christmas Park and Rides has strengthened the Council’s resolve to provide a permanent facility.

“We have a site in mind off the N6 but there are issues with access and egress and we are in ongoing negotiations with the National Roads Authority in the context of the ongoing N6 project of changing roundabouts to signalised junctions.”

“We have been talking with Galway Chamber for the last couple of months, and we have a meeting again this week, about the airport. It may be a good pilot project for a Park and Ride and we are examining that,” he said.

Mr Hayes added that a number of factors would have to be considered before committing to any one site for a permanent facility including location, proximity to the city’s bus lanes, frequency and the public’s willingness to use it.

The airport has been looking at alternative business plans for the facility since Aer Arann ceased its flights from Galway and since Government funding of the operation was pulled.