Bus Éireann will get an extra €4 million from the State this year to hire 200 new workers to allow it expand services in several areas around the Republic.
The State transport company said on Thursday it plans to hire 200 people, including 190 new drivers and a number of mechanics, to expand services in various cities and towns.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) will give Bus Éireann an extra €4 million to pay for the expansion as the company operates the routes under a public service contract with the State body that runs to December 2019.
Bus Éireann received €47 million in 2017 to run public service obligation routes, lossmaking services that the NTA believes are needed .
News of its recruitment drive comes just months after Bus Éireann cut 226 jobs, including more than 100 drivers, through a voluntary redundancy programme agreed with its unions and the Labour Court that was part of a broader restructuring.
The recruits will be paid new composite rates, beginning at €17.30 an hour, which were agreed with the unions and eliminated overtime and other premia paid to workers at the State company.
Bus Éireann will hire drivers in Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Navan, Waterford and Wicklow. The company intends to increase the frequency of its services and capacity on routes in these areas.
Routes earmarked for expansion include Ballincollig-Carrigaline in Cork and the Oranmore in Galway.
The NTA will also supply any new buses needed for these services but the authority, rather than Bus Éireann, will own the vehicles.
Much of Bus Éireann’s business involves operating routes under contract to the NTA.
The authority has put a number of contracts out to tender, including the Dublin-Kildare route, which private player Go Ahead will operate from next year, and the Waterford city bus service, which the State company succeeded in keeping.
Under these deals, the NTA owns the buses, the companies staff and drive them, and pay the fares collected from passengers to the authority.
Those arrangements do not apply to the services for which Bus Éireann says it is hiring new drivers.