Bus Éireann says there are too many buses on key routes

Unions criticise Minister over failing to play role in resolving Dublin Bus strike

 Dublin Bus drivers and staff striking outside the Harristown Bus Depot, Dublin.  Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Dublin Bus drivers and staff striking outside the Harristown Bus Depot, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Bus Éireann has said there is an over-supply of bus services on some of the country’s main inter-city routes.

It said “the number of seats provided versus market growth was up to three times the demand” and this could have been met by existing services.

In a highly controversial move, the State-owned Bus Éireann earlier this week announced plans to separate its Expressway inter-regional coach service from the rest of the company and to introduce lower terms and conditions for staff working there.

The move has provoked outrage among trade unions who are to ballot members for strike action over the plan.

The potential strike action at Bus Éireann comes as Dublin Bus services again come to a standstill Friday and Saturday, as part of another 48-hour work stoppage by staff campaigning for higher pay.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) said Thursday that it had issued only five new licences for inter-regional bus services over recent years.

It also said that, over the the 2013 to 2015 period, there was significant growth in intercity passenger numbers despite the economic downturn.

Financial performance

The NTA said Bus Éireann could have applied for licences to run the services currently operated by private sector companies.

A spokeswoman for Bus Éireann said it was not blaming the NTA for the problems in Expressway, but that the issuing of new licences and licence amendments were “having an impact on the financial performance”.

“We believe there is oversupply on some of the main intercity corridors. The number of seats provided versus market growth is up to three times the demand, which could have been met by existing services.”

“Given that there are only six major population centres on the island, five new licences and three amendments to existing licences since 2013 impacts up to nearly half of the routes we serve, and these licences are focused on end-to-end services.

“The impact of these licences is that we have had to withdraw from over 200 secondary locations in the last five years, to remain competitive and reduce losses.”

Bus Éireann said the number of departures across key corridors increased by 45 per cent since 2010 and, on one corridor, by 128 per cent.

‘A sugar daddy’

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has not said whether he supports the controversial Bus Éireann plan.

Meanwhile trade unions have again criticised Mr Ross for failing to play “a constructive role” in finding a resolution to the Dublin Bus dispute.

Siptu divisional organiser Owen Reidy said: “It is no longer sustainable for the Minister for Transport to sit back and say this dispute has nothing to do with him when he is responsible for public transport.

“His line about not being ‘a sugar daddy’ is both ridiculous and incredible. He claims that he is merely a shareholder in Dublin Bus when, in reality, the Department of Transport has responsibility for deciding upon the strategic direction of public transport and the amount of State funding that will be provided to deliver services.”

National Bus and Railworkers’ Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary said his union found it difficult “to understand the Minister’s lecturing of Dublin Bus and his words at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, that both sides are going to have to believe that he won’t be opening the chequebook”.

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