A trade union representing bus drivers has taken a High Court challenge to decisions by the National Transport Authority to put certain routes operated by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus out to tender.
The National Bus and Rail Workers Union says its action arises from concerns about the effects of privatising routes currently operated by the State bus companies.
It fears the NTA move could lead to the demise of both companies.
The union claims the NTA's decision to subject to tender almost 30 routes, including routes in Dublin's commuter and outer metropolitan areas, and routes in Waterford City, breaches the exclusive rights to operate the routes guaranteed to Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008.
In correspondence with the union, lawyers for the NTA said it is entitled to make the disputed decisions to invite tenders for the routes.
Following the NTA decision, notices inviting tenders for the routes were issued with the relevant contracts due to be awarded in April 2016.
In proceedings brought by the NBRU and one of its 3,000 members, Pauric Wall, who operates a route between Tullamore and Dublin via Edenderry for Bus Éireann, the court is asked to make orders quashing three decisions by the NTA dated January 22nd, 2015, to subject certain routes serviced by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus to a tender process.
They argue the NTA acted outside of its powers in subjecting the routes to tender and the relevant decisions are null, void and of no legal effect.
Moving the application, Eileen Barrington SC, for the applicants, said their case is that the NTA has erred in law and has adopted an interpretation of the 2008 Act which is not legally correct and inconsistent.
The NTA was incorrect in asserting it must put certain routes out to tender in order to comply with an EU regulation concerning how member states award rights and compensate companies for providing public passenger transport services.
The relevant regulation does not require member states to privatise public passenger transport services or the servicing of public service operators routes as claimed by the NTA, it is argued.
Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted the ex parte application (one side only represented) for leave to bring the judicial review proceedings and returned the matter to early June.