Private bus operators cannot guarantee school transport services up to June

Spiralling fuel costs have been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

About 95 per cent of private bus operators cannot guarantee school transport services up to June due to spiralling fuel costs, a new survey from the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) has shown.

The increase in the cost of fuel has been exacerbated by the disruption in supply from Russia as a consequence of the war in Ukraine.

The group said there could now be a reduction in services. Given that the majority of private operators provide transport in areas outside of Dublin, this situation is “likely to cause significant disruption for regional commuters”.

The survey found 95 per cent of operators believe it is not commercially viable to continue running these services up to June 2022 without any subvention/support. Nine out of 10 operators need up to a 35 per cent increase in contract rates to continue to operate their services


It also found nearly two-thirds of operators have seen fuel costs increase by more than 50 per cent over the course of the last 12 months.

The CTTC called on the Government to “urgently implement” a temporary VAT reduction on fuel to 9 per cent which will “help to mitigate the soaring costs and safeguard service provision for regional commuters”.

About 43 per cent of the representative body’s membership identified this measure as their preferred solution.

CTTC chairman John Halpenny said: "The pandemic dealt a significant blow to the commercial bus and coach industry with the low use of public transport, but just as business began to pick up the impact of the war in Ukraine has resulted in soaring fuel costs.

“With these historic spikes in prices in a short period of time, operators are seriously struggling to provide services.

“Fuel is a mission-critical expense for the industry, and where we are witnessing exponential growth in costs it is clear that governmental intervention is urgently required to rescue the sector from failure.


“To expect the industry to provide the same scheduling for the same pricing against the backdrop of 50-60 per cent increases in fuel is frankly unrealistic, unsustainable and totally unaffordable.”

Mr Halpenny said the Government must recognise there is an “existential crisis” facing the industry.

“Providing a temporary VAT reduction, akin to what was introduced for the hospitality industry, would represent a crucial lifeline to many operators, and particularly those operating in the school transport space.”

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter