Bus Tour Operator Seeks Stop Order

The owner of a Galway-based sightseeing tour bus company has brought a High Court challenge over not being allowed to operate a roadside stop away from the city's coach station.

The action has been brought by Galway Sightseeing Tour Company Ltd, trading as Galway Tour Company with an address at Deerpark, Oranmore in Co. Galway, which the court heard wants to be allowed to collect and drop off its passengers from a location on Merchants Road in Galway.

The company has been providing buses for sightseeing tours and private hire for many years. It claims that in 2009, it was required by Galway City Council to move its collection and drop off points from Merchants Road to the then newly constructed Galway Coach Station.

That facility was built on public lands. However, the station is operated by private entities. Represented by Mark Harty SC, the company claims that when it was built, bus tour operators in Galway were told that the licence fees charged for use of the station would be low.

Counsel said his client exited the station in 2020 after it could not agree terms with the station's operators due what it described as the "unfair terms" and the "astronomical price" the station's operators sought to introduce. Arising out of that, the company sought a licence from the National Transport Authority to be allowed to operate a stop on Merchants Road. It claims the NTA said that any such licence required the council's approval.

The council objected to the proposal on grounds of traffic congestion. The NTA then informed the company that it would not approve the stop at that location. Mr. Harty SC said what the council has effectively done in this instance is "create a monopoly situation" for a private company by refusing to allow his client to operate a stop from anywhere else in the city other than from the bus station.