Bus Éireann: Taxpayer can’t bail out ‘floundering businesses’

NBRU says rural politicians need to protect threatened Expressway service

The NBRU has warned that Ireland’s bus network could unravel. Photograph: Eric Luke

The NBRU has warned that Ireland’s bus network could unravel. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed has said the taxpayer cannot bail out Bus Éireann’s Expressway service and that a viable financial package needs to be worked out.

He said Bus Éireann provides an essential service but the company is haemorraghing money.

“All parties need to recognise their responsibilities in this very difficult situation,” he said. “The taxpayer cannot be the go-to person at all stages to bail out businesses that are floundering.”

The National Bus and Rail Union said politicians who claim to represent rural Ireland need to step up and help save the Expressway service.

A draft report says closing down the network of inter-city services – with the possible loss of 516 jobs – may ultimately be the only viable option for dealing with the company’s financial situation.

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said the comprehensive bus network that staff have built up over generation will unravel if something is not done.

“The fact of the matter is that unless all of the stakeholders, inclusive of the policy makers at the Department of Transport, the NTA... along with company and staff come together and engage on potential solutions, the comprehensive network that has taken generations of Bus Éireann staff to build will unravel and ultimately disappear,” he said.

The confidential draft report by consultatns Grant Thornton maintains that there are “limited strategic reasons” for the State to own a commercial bus business.

Mr O’Leary said Bus Éireann Expressway was a “ vital social and economic public transport link into every community”.

He said unless there is a political willingness to address the fundamental issues at the heart of its crisis then the bus services will be no more.

“The resolution will not be exclusively found within the Industrial relations arena,” he added. “Offering heads on a platter will not make the crisis disappear, it is high time for those politicians who purport to represent rural Ireland to step up to the mark and work towards protecting this vital piece of irreplaceable infrastructure”.