Bus strikes: Drivers threaten action over changes to Expressway

The union representing public bus drivers is today expected to warn politicians that changes to Bus Éireann’s Expressway service will lead to industrial action.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NRBU) will today appear before the Oireachtas transport committee as part of a discussion on the future of public transport and the level of state subvention. It is understood the NBRU will challenge the Department of Transport’s policy, as implemented by the National Transport Authority (NTA), particularly in the area of licensing.

It has accused the NTA of “mismanagement” because it awarded licences to private operators on Expressway routes, which it argues has undermined the Bus Éireann service.

Tensions escalated this week after the union dismissed the NTA as “the HSE on wheels” in a letter to Transport Minister Shane Ross.

“What is particularly fascinating for those of us who observe the political manoeuvrings and shenanigans across Leinster House is the notion that those who were happy to be portrayed as being the paragons of the anti-quango brigade, now find themselves cast in the role of insiders facilitating agencies like the NTA to indulge in empire building to the detriment of frontline transport services,” wrote NBRU general secretary, Dermot O’Leary.

“This particular quango, the HSE on Wheels, appears to have all the Authority with no Responsibility. Being a civil servant in the Department or in the NTA does not automatically conjure up magical powers of exclusive expertise on all matters transport,” wrote Mr O’Leary.

The NBRU has already stated its strong opposition to any proposals to change the service and is balloting its members on potential industrial action in response to proposed changes to Expressway. The result of the ballot is expected within the next two weeks.

Last month the NBRU accused Bus Éireann of dropping “an industrial relations bombshell” after it emerged the company is reviewing Expressway with a view to restructuring the service.

“The damage that has been inflicted on Bus Éireann by this policy cannot nor should not be underestimated — in particular the effect on the Expressway business by the issuing and amending of Licences by the Department and the NTA,” wrote Mr O’Leary.

“Woe betide the politicians who would be held responsible for the dismantling of these vital transport links into hundreds of communities across Ireland.”

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