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Galway Transport Forum - Engage for a Living City

Activities

The group has been active since its inception in autumn 2011 and, to date, the work can be partitioned into two phases. Phase I of this work was carried out through summer 2012 and Phase II was initiated in autumn 2012 and these are now described.

Phase I

The approach adopted here was to conduct a survey and solicit input from the public through a website in which suggestions were be made in relation to traffic improvements.  The specifics of the initiative are as follows:

•The public launch of the initiative was on the 28th November, 2011.  There was a big emphasis on publicising the initiative through the media in the period after the launch.

•The survey ran for a period of two months up until the end of January 2012.

•The final part will be collation and assessment of the inputs and preparation of the findings.  This will take another four weeks and a coherent set of proposals will be brought forward in mid to late February.

The group engaged in extensive consultation with the public in late 2011-early 2012.  The group would like to sincerely thank the public for their tremendous contributions to this initiative. It is clear that many citizens put considerable thought and effort into their submissions and these have been invaluable. The group also appreciates the positive interaction with other organisations including the Galway Transportation Unit (GTU), An Garda Síochána and public transport providers.

This work led to the publication of a report in March 2012 in which range of implementable short term traffic measures to help alleviate some of the current difficulties were proposed. Following the publication of the report the members of the group met regularly with the GTU to press for implementation of the various recommendations.  A report was prepared in July 2012 on the implementation status. The group is particularly pleased to see that an Operational Team has now been established by the GTU and it is also pleased that a significant number of the recommendations are being implemented or will be acted on shortly.

Phase II

Phase II was initiated in autumn 2012 and it represents an important second step by the group as it seeks to further engage with the public on Galway transport issues.  Specifically the group again seeks the input from the general public with a particular focus on developments and progress in Galway transport in the recent past.  The survey runs from November 19th 2012 to January 18th, 2013.  A report on the findings will be issued in February 2013 and this report will again be presented to the key stakeholders.

Background

There is a general acceptance that there is a significant traffic problem in Galway City and that the City has developed a national reputation as “Grid-Lock City”. The traffic congestion that exists currently in the city is negatively impacting on all those living and working in the city and also on the economy of the city and region, in terms of attracting industry, tourism and commercial activity.

Significant planning and resources will be required to deliver the infrastructure and systems necessary to remove all of the congestion in the city and deliver a sustainable transport system. In the meantime, we need to look at a series of interim measures that will ameliorate some of the existing problems. There is a need for creativity and public engagement in developing these interim solutions. Some of the measures may be short term and will impact negatively on some in order to provide for the common good. It is unlikely that short term improvements can be achieved by infrastructural works alone and traffic control measures and behavioural change must also play a part.

It will be necessary to deliver on the long term vision for transport in Galway before many of the current difficulties will be resolved.  The key elements of this, as laid out in the 2010 Galway Metropolitan Smarter Travel Area (GMSTA) Action Plan, are:

•Large infrastructure projects – specifically the Galway City Outer Bypass.

•Modal shift away from cars.

•Smart city/traffic.

The Better Transport for Galway group evolved from an initiative by Cllr. Hildegarde Naughton, Mayor of Galway 2011-12.  Given the transport difficulties in the city, she convened a small Advisory Group in autumn 2011 to engage with the general public and all key stakeholders with the objective of generating ideas that will help to address aspects of the immediate traffic problems in Galway City. The Advisory Group was drawn from Engineers Ireland West Region, NUI Galway, Galway Chamber and others with expertise in transport.  In autumn 2012, the group reformed itself as Better Transport for Galway.

Objectives

The specific objectives of this initiative were:

•To identify a range of implementable short term traffic measures that will help alleviate some of the current difficulties

•To engage with the Galway public in a constructive manner and solicit thoughts, suggestions and ideas on short term measures

•To facilitate a fresh approach to traffic in Galway and act as a bridge between the diverse requirements of the many stakeholders

•To support the GMSTA Action Plan wherever possible and to be consistent with its objectives.

Communications

Communications will form a very important part of this initiative and this communication will come in many forms and promote the engagement that is vital to the process:

•All those that use private and public transport including the general public, businesses and visitors to our city

•City Councillors

•City Council officials

•Other key stakeholders – Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, Garda Síochána, the Galway Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Galway Cycling Campaign, etc.

Surveys and Website

The Phase II survey will run for an eight week period starting at the end of November 2012 and running until January 18th, 2013.  The primary focus of this will be to follow up on last year’s Phase I initiative and to solicit comments and ideas from the general public.

The survey will be conducted in a number of ways and the following three elements will be included:

•On-line:  People can go into the website and input their comments directly on a blog or complete an on-line Questionnaire.

•Direct surveys of the general public: Street surveys will be conducted at a number of prominent public places (such as shopping areas) over the December-January period.

•Specific surveys of key transport related users will also be conducted.

The group will also be willing to engage directly with all relevant stakeholders in developing its ideas and it will welcome the opportunity to meet with any relevant groups – public or private.

The website will be a critical part of the engagement and best practice in relation to e-participation will be used.  The format and make-up of the website will incorporate best practice from some of the most liveable cities in the world where public e-participation has had a very beneficial effect.

People

The individuals involved in this project are drawn from a number of backgrounds that make them very well positioned to make a meaningful contribution to short term measures that have the potential to improve traffic flow in Galway. For a considerable period of time, Engineers Ireland West Region has had a strong focus on its contribution to the development and sustained growth of the West of Ireland. Transport is an integral part of this growth and a number of members of the West Region Committee are involved in the project. The group also includes individuals with specific transportation expertise.  There is strong support from NUI Galway; (i) on the engineering side to address the traffic issues and (ii) from the Digital Enterprise Research Institute bringing best practice in web technologies and smart systems.

Engineers Ireland

Engineers Ireland is the operating name of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland which was founded in 1835.  It is the largest professional body in Ireland with a membership of over 24,000 members from all engineering disciplines who are employed in both the private and the public sector.  Its primary role is to be the representative voice of the engineering profession in Ireland.

It is organised on both a divisional and regional basis.  Engineers Ireland West Region represents 2,300 members located in the counties of Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

Motivated by its objective of contributing to the growth of the West of Ireland, a body of work was commissioned in which there was a critical assessment of the Region in terms of its resources and the enormous potential that exists.  This work has led to the publication of a Report in May, 2011 entitled “Engineering the West to 2020 – Reinventing our Region”.