Minister for Transport defends plan for privatisation of bus routes

Move aimed at securing better service at the same cost, says Paschal Donohoe

Bus Éireann routes earmarked to be put out to tender include commuter services from Dublin to Tullamore, Portlaoise and Kildare, as well as a number of routes in Waterford city.

Bus Éireann routes earmarked to be put out to tender include commuter services from Dublin to Tullamore, Portlaoise and Kildare, as well as a number of routes in Waterford city.

Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 01:08

The purpose of putting some bus routes currently operated by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann out to tender is to secure a better service for bus users at the same cost, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe has said.

In a letter sent to the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), he said the National Transport Authority (NTA) believed that its plan to put out to tender 10 per cent of the current routes operated by the two State-owned transport companies presented little risk if any to the overall operations of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann.

Mr Donohoe said that in the event of Dublin Bus or Bus Éireann not being successful in the tendering process and the routes being awarded to other operators, the staff in the companies would be protected under EU regulations governing the transfer of undertakings.

In his letter, dated July 18th but which has now been published by the NBRU, Mr Donohoe said neither Dublin Bus nor Bus Éireann were being privatised and would not be over the lifetime of the Government.

The Government has agreed to open up certain routes to competition in order to comply with EU directives, and the NTA announced it was opening some 10 per cent of the routes operated by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus to competitive tender. Contracts are to be awarded next year, with services to start in 2016.

In Dublin, orbital routes rather than city centre services – such as those between Blackrock and Rialto, and Chapelizod and the Square shopping centre in Tallaght – will be put out to tender.

Bus Éireann routes earmarked to be put out to tender include commuter services from Dublin to Tullamore, Portlaoise and Kildare, as well as a number of routes in Waterford city.

Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann will be able to compete for the tenders when the competition begins.

The plans to put bus routes out to tender have been strongly opposed by the NBRU and Siptu. Talks which took place at the Labour Relations Commission on Wednesday between bus unions and the NTA led to the deferral of a planned 90-minute work stoppage and protest march this week by workers in the two transport companies.

Mr Donohoe said the NTA considered it to be in the public interest to leave Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann “with a scale of operation which remains efficient for the company’s resources and overheads”.