Traffic chaos at local bus stops
How the current bus stops at Banba Square in Nenagh could continue to operate was a mystery given the health and safety risks posed, a top official with Tipperary County Council has stated. “It’s a free for all there, and a miracle that somebody has not been hurt,” declared the council’s Director of Roads and Transportation, Marcus O’ Connor. He said the current stop area had very limited services for bus users, and none for those who had mobility issues.
Mr O’ Connor said the ideal option would be to move the bus stops to a new dedicated transport hub at the railway station. However, he said the council still had a job to do to persuade the National Transport Authority (NTA) of the merits of such a plan.
“I hope the NTA will come around to our way of thinking and take the considered opinions of the engineers of the council on board.
“From my point of view it would be much safer to have the buses in a transport hub at the station than what is happening at Banba Square at the moment.”
Mr O’ Connor said having a dedicated hub at the station was something the council identified as a good option several years ago.
“We think it’s a no-brainer. The station is situated on one of the main streets of the town and room exists for proper set down facilities, which do not exist at Banba Square.
“It would give us the option of putting bus shelters in place and there is plenty of room at the railway for people to park their cars. At the moment at Banba Square there is no room for bus users to park and there is traffic chaos there.”
A plan to develop a one-way traffic flow system in the central streets of Nenagh will proceed even if the local authority fails to get the bus stops moved to the proposed new hub, Mr O’ Connor stated, when addressing a meeting of the Nenagh Municipal District authority on Thursday last.
Cllr John Carroll said he failed to understand how the NTA could stand over the traffic hazards posed at the existing bus stops at Banba Square and Kickham Street. “It’s very dangerous there for people getting off buses, especially in the dark. Moving the buses to the railway station should be a top priority and this should not be held up any longer.”
Cllr Carroll said buses parking at Banba Square were impacting on traffic flows. “We have to shake the bushes here with the NTA and ensure that it comes with us in our plan to move the buses to the railway station.”
Cathaoirleach Cllr Hughie McGrath, who first raised the issue, said that he spoke to the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, on the issue when the latter was on a recent visit to the area.
“The answer I got from the minister did not give me any confidence that the buses were going to go to the railway station.”
Cllr McGrath revealed that he had asked the Fianna Fáil TD, Jackie Cahill, to raise the issue with the Minister in the Dáil. In a response the Minister had told Deputy Cahill that he had contacted the NTA seeking from it a direct response in relation to the council's view that the railway station should be the location for the bus stops rather than contributing to traffic conjestion at their present location at Banba Square.
Cllr McGrath said he had also spoken to the Labour Party TD, Alan Kelly in regard to the impasse and he had pledged to “get stuck into it straight away”.
The railway station was an ideal site for the hub as it was a central location and not on the edges of the town as the NTA had stated. “The NTA should be looking to establish a hub at the station rather than us having to coax them down there.”
Cllr McGrath said the council had purchased properties in Mitchel Street, which had been demolished to facilitate the planned one-way traffic system. This would enable the council to take away the traffic lights at the Market Cross and an integral part of the overall plan was to move the bus stops to the station. “I am frustrated that the NTA has been, so far, unwilling to agree with our plan to establish a new transport hub in the railway station.”
Concurring with the views expressed, Cllr Joe Hannigan said new bus routes serving some of the local villages would soon be established and therefore it was vital that there was a dedicated transport hub where people could get on and off buses safely. The railway station was an ideal site, and it was alarming if there was going to be any delay in developing the hub at that site.
“Minister Ryan seems to be very positive in relation to this plan. At least that was my interpretation of the situation,” said Cllr Haningan, who noted his view on this was different to Cllr McGrath’s.
Mr O’ Connor said the council had met Minister Ryan on three separate occasions where the issue was discussed. He felt when it came to what the council was trying to achieve, “the Minister gets it”.
The difficulty was with the NTA, which had stated that the railway site was too far away from the town centre for the development of a transport hub. The council would keep working with the authority in the hope they it would see the merits of developing the hub on that site. There would be minimal investment for the council in developing a hub at the station.