Galway tour-bus firm brings legal action over stop location
Posted on 24th January 2022 at 21:52
Company wants to use Merchants Road stop rather than city coach station, court told
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, a facility that 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 to what it described as the “unfair terms” and the “astronomical price” the station’s operators sought to introduce.
The company sought a licence from the National Transport Authority (NTA) to be allowed 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 was “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 the bus station.
This inflexible policy has favoured a business rival of his client, counsel added.
Counsel said it is his client’s case that the council’s refusal to allow it to operate outside of the station means it is applying a fixed policy with no basis in law.
Counsel said that other separate legal proceedings are in being arising out of his client being wrongly invoiced for use of the coach station.
The NTA, counsel added, had acted in an unfair and arbitrary manner and outside of its powers and obligations in the manner it considered the application to be allowed use a stop away from the city’s bus station.
Both respondents are acting in an unlawful manner, it was further submitted.
In its judicial review proceedings against both Galway City Council and the NTA, the company seeks various reliefs including an order allowing the tour company to maintain a roadside stop for its customers at Merchants Road.
It also seeks an order quashing the NTA’s refusal to consider any application the company made for a licence to maintain a stop other than at Galway Coach Station without the prior approval of the council.
The matter came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan at the High Court on Monday.
The judge, after hearing that there were other proceedings being brought over the dispute, directed that the application for permission to bring the challenge be made on notice or in the presence of lawyers for the other parties.
The matter was adjourned to a date in February.
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