Bus Éireann to ban overtime in bid to save the company
Firm tells Minister for Transport Shane Ross it could run out of money within 18 months
Bus Éireann is to introduce radical measures aimed at generating savings of up to €8 million within the next few weeks. Photograph: Eric Luke
Bus Éireann is to introduce radical measures aimed at generating savings of up to €8 million within the next few weeks to allow it to continue in operation.
The State-owned firm will shortly announce it will be introducing a ban on all overtime for staff and will also eliminate the carry-over of all annual leave.
There will also be a ban on recruitment and new prohibitions will be put in place on chartering buses from outside the company.
These cost-saving measures will represent the first phase of an overall plan to put Bus Éireann on a firm financial footing in the face of mounting losses.
The first cost cuts are likely to emerge following forthcoming negotiations with unions.
The company is understood to have told Minister for Transport Shane Ross of its serious financial difficulties at a meeting on Thursday, during which it warned again that it could run out of money within 18 months.
The company had previously warned staff it lost an estimated €8 million in 2016 and the threat of insolvency was very real.
Earlier this week, The Irish Times reported external consultants had advised the company that closing down the Expressway intercity coach service could be its most viable option for the future.
Expressway, which is facing intense competition from private bus operators, accounts for the vast bulk of the company’s losses. Up to 500 jobs could be lost if the service shuts.
The consultants’ report forecasts Bus Éireann could lose €5 million annually over the coming years if no action is taken to address the issues.
Mr Ross separately held talks with the National Transport Authority (NTA) yesterday about potentially providing alternative services for passengers as the crisis deepens.
A spokeswoman for the Minister said he wanted to reassure people in rural Ireland they would not be left without services following any restructuring of Bus Éireann.
Government sources last night confirmed Mr Ross held talks with Bus Éireann and the NTA in recent days.
They said the Minister was told by the bus company a concrete plan was still being finalised to counter the threat of insolvency.
Sources said Mr Ross had been assured that, while some of the existing Bus Éireann routes may have to be sub-contracted out to other operators under any new survival plan, specific services had not yet been identified.
Any reduction in Bus Éireann services would face strong opposition politically.
Many of Mr Ross’s Independent Alliance colleagues, including Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Seán Canney and Kevin “Boxer” Moran, would not support cuts.
Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesman, Robert Troy, has already said his party would not vote in favour of job losses or route closures.