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Go-Ahead bus contract extended despite complaints and dissatisfaction with service

Private operator to keep 25 Dublin bus routes until at least October 2024

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has decided to extend the contract of private bus operator Go-Ahead, despite saying it is “not satisfied” with the company’s performance.

Go-Ahead, which operates 25 routes in the outer Dublin area, as well as five serving commuters to the capital, has been subject of a litany of complaints from passengers and politicians in relation to the cancellation of services and excessive delays, which it has attributed to recruitment problems.

Issues were highlighted in the Dáil earlier this month by Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin TDs, who detailed stories of constituents being left stranded at bus stops when Go-Ahead buses failed to arrive, or left waiting up to 90 minutes for scheduled services.

It was also reported that Go-Ahead had been fined more than €850,000 by the NTA for failing to meet performance targets in the first six months of the year. Dublin Bus, which runs almost 90 per cent of the bus routes in the capital, was fined €1.5 million over the same period.


Suburban services

Go-Ahead secured a five-year contract from the NTA in 2018 to run services, largely in suburban Dublin.

In response to queries from The Irish Times, the NTA said while the contract was due to expire next October, and it was “not satisfied with Go Ahead’s performance in recent months”, it had decided to extend the contract to October 2024 because it would be “too disruptive to services to retender the contract at this time”.

The NTA said it was “not satisfied with the performance of other operators as well over recent months” hence the penalties applied for “below-target performances”.

A spokeswoman for Go-Ahead said the firm “does not discuss specific details regarding service contracts and routes”. However, she said that following a recruitment campaign “we are now in a position whereby we will have more drivers available to enter service in the coming weeks”.

The spokeswoman said the company wished to “apologise to anyone who was negatively impacted by service issues”.

National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) general secretary Dermot O’Leary said it seemed unlikely the company would have been able to recruit sufficient drivers to fill the gaps in service given it was competing with the likes of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, which offered better pay than the private operators.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times