Private bus firm Go-Ahead avoids fines over failures to allow ‘bedding in’

NTA will not fine bus operator despite complaints about punctuality, buses not turning up

In July, the National Ttransport Authority said financial penalties would be imposed on Go-Ahead. However the authority has since said it is allowing the private operator time to “bed in” and would not fine the firm. File photograph: Go-Ahead

In July, the National Ttransport Authority said financial penalties would be imposed on Go-Ahead. However the authority has since said it is allowing the private operator time to “bed in” and would not fine the firm. File photograph: Go-Ahead

 

The National Transport Authority has decided not to fine private bus operator Go-Ahead for failures in adequately delivering some Dublin services in order to give it time to “bed in”.

The decision has been described as “outrageous” by Richard Boyd Barrett TD, People Before Profit deputy for Dún Laoghaire, whose constituents are particularly affected.

He said his office continued to receive complaints about Go-Ahead-operated routes – particularly about punctuality and buses failing to turn up.

Pensioners and children trying to the get to school were particularly affected he said. The most complained about routes, he added, were the number 59 from Dún Laoghaire to Killiney, the 63 from Dún Laoghaire to Kilternan and the 111 from Dalkey to Brides Glen.

In July, the NTA said financial penalties would be imposed on Go-Ahead. However the authority has since said it is allowing the private operator time to “bed in” and would not fine them.

Go-Ahead won the contract to operate 24 bus routes (10 per cent of the total) in Dublin, in April last year, with rollout beginning in September 2018 and completed in March 2019.

Below target

In July, Mr Boyd Barrett raised the high volume of complaints his office was receiving about the service. The authority contacted him, telling him: “Unfortunately the delivery of certain bus services by Go-Ahead during June was below the target set out in the contract.”

The private operator attributed problems meeting its targets to “higher than expected driver resignations”.

The NTA told Mr Boyd Barrett: “In accordance with the terms of that contract the operator is liable to financial penalties where performance is below the agreed targets and the NTA does impose penalties in those instances.”

However, in correspondence sent last month the NTA says: “At this stage the NTA has not imposed any deductions on the operator. However as noted...the operator was allowed a short time to ‘bed in’ before it became liable to deductions for not meeting its targets.”

This was “totally unacceptable” Mr Boyd Barrett said on Sunday, given that the operator had been awarded a contract worth €125 million of public money over five years, to provide an essential public service.

A spokeswoman for Go-Ahead said the company had not had a formal communication from the NTA and so she could not comment.

A spokesperson for the NTA told The Irish Times the company is “applying service related deductions as per the contract.”