Luas operator signs five-year €150m contract

Transdev says it is strongly incentivised to grow passenger numbers and reduce costs

The operators of Dublin’s Luas light rail system, Transdev, have signed a new contract, extending for a further five year period their management of the passenger transport system. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

The operators of Dublin’s Luas light rail system, Transdev, have signed a new contract, extending for a further five year period their management of the passenger transport system. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

The operators of Dublin’s Luas light rail have signed a new contract, extending for a further five year period their management of the passenger transport system.

The contract is worth €150 million and under it, Transdev Dublin Light Rail Limited, will continue managing the system and rolling stock but also seek to expand passenger numbers using social media.

According to a Luas spokesman, the new contract “strongly incentivises the operator to grow passenger numbers and reduce costs in order to provide best value for money for our customers”.

The company will attempt to achieve this through a heavy use of social media, including Twitter and Facebook, to promote increased use of the system.

Luas is already a success – both in passenger terms for the travelling public and in business terms for French-owned Transdev (formerly Veolia Transdev).

Last year, some 30 million people used the two existing lines - Brides Glen to St Stephen’s Green, and Tallaght to Connolly/The Point - which was an increase of eight million on 2005, the system’s second year of operating. More than 83,000 people use the system daily.

While revenues for the company grew to just under €54 million to the end of last year, pre-tax profits fell slightly to €1.39m, although the company paid a dividend to shareholders of €1.68m.

The Luas system is currently undergoing a major expansion which will see the Green Line extended from St Stephen’s Green down Dawson Street, into College Green and across the Liffey, northbound via O’Connell Bridge, to Boombridge (where it will connect with the Maynooth Irish Rail line) and southbound, via the new Rosie Hackett Bridge and Hawkins Street, and back to the Green.

Speaking today in Dublin, Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe made reference to the contrasting positions of Luas and Irish Rail, saying that a “high quality public transport system is something to which consumers will respond”. Irish Rail had improved greatly in recent years, he suggested.

He declined to say if he or the Government would intervene in the current management-union dispute at the rail operator, noting that talks had gone on for 20 months before the recent two day strike, which he said cost the company €1.5 million.

The Labour Relations Commission, which was non-political, was the appropriate forum for the two sides to try to settle their differences, he said.

Noting that 60 per cent of the rail operator’s costs were wage-related, he said that savings proposed to Irish Rail’s operating costs were “vital” to the future of the company.

He repeated his pre-Budget position that Irish Rail should see no further cut to the subvention of public money given to it to help pay for the service offered.

Mr Donohoe said that when the Luas Green line extension was in place, commuters, shoppers and visitors would be offered “a truly integrated public transport system in Dublin for the first time”.