Ross signals more money for public service bus routes

Government will facilitate talks between unions and Bus Éireann to tackle crisis

Shane Ross is  expected to again rule out State funding for Expressway coach services. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Shane Ross is expected to again rule out State funding for Expressway coach services. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Shane Ross is expected to signal that the Government is prepared to provide more money to Bus Éireann for its non-commercial services.

It will also indicate it will assist in facilitating talks between unions and management without preconditions for tackling the crisis currently facing the company.

However, in a presentation to the Oireachtas transport committee today, the Minister for Transport is again expected to rule out the provision of State funding for the loss-making commercial Expressway coach services.

Radical cuts

Yesterday, Unite said its members in Bus Éireann had voted unanimously in favour of strike action.

Other unions such as Siptu and the NBRU already have a mandate for industrial action if the cuts are imposed without agreement.

Precarious

In his presentation, the Minister is expected to say that the Government is committed to ensuring that public transport services are adequately funded with increases being allocated to the subsidised public service routes “as resources allow”.

He is also likely to say the Government will “review how best to ensure a sustainable funding model for the free-travel scheme”.

The company and unions have argued the State does not cover the full cost of the provision of free travel for older people.

Mr Ross is expected to tell the committee the crisis at Bus Éireann will only be settled by open, constructive and realistic engagement between the company and its employees.

However, he will maintain that, despite all the accusations and counter -accusations about the future of the company, there are signs of hope.

“Amongst all the noise, we heard two clear messages. The first was that trade unions are willing to engage on the basis of no preconditions. The second was the acting chief executive confirming to the committee [last week] that nothing he has said or issued in recent weeks constitutes preconditions.”

Assurance

Workplace Relations Commission

The Minister is also likely to say that the Government will give an assurance to the people of rural Ireland that that National Transport Authority has statutory powers available to it to ensure that they will not lose connectivity as a result of any changes to the Bus Éireann network.

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