Update 2.05pm: The National Transport Authority (NTA) has announced Bus Éireann as the preferred bidder for the contract relating to the operation of five city bus routes in Waterford City.
The announcement follows a competitive process involving five bids from Irish and international companies. The NTA will be formally sending the company a detailed Letter of Intent in the coming weeks.
Following the announcement, Anne Graham Chief Executive Officer of the National Transport Authority said, "
This is ultimately about improving bus services for people in Waterford City, and making public transport a more attractive option for members of the travelling public in the city.
“A significant benefit is the new fleet of 17 vehicles that we are purchasing for these services. The buses are powered by the latest Euro VI diesel engine, which are much cleaner in use than older diesel engines."
The buses, which are expected to be on Waterford roads in 2018 will have a wheelchair space and a buggy space, plus a motorised ramp at the entrance door to allow wheelchairs to board easily.
USB chargers will be installed at every seat and WIFI will be available throughout. The buses will also be equipped with audio “next stop” announcements and a visual display of the name of the next stop.
Ms Graham added, “Under this arrangement, there will be an immediate overall increase in service level of about 5%. The most significant change in terms of frequency will be seen on Route 604 (Carrickphierish Rd. – The Quay), where the number of daily services is to increase from 15 to 21.
“But during the course of the contract, as more people avail of their local bus service, it would be our intention to further increase frequency and improve service levels across the board."
Update 10.06am: The National Transport Authority will reveal later who will operate bus services in Waterford City.
A tender process was announced earlier this year for the routes currently operated by Bus Éireann.
Bus Éireann was entitled to tender for the Waterford routes, but it a private operator wins out, it will face issues relating to surplus staff, buses and depots in the area.
It is part of a Government commitment to open 10% of bus routes to those in the private sector.
Waterford is the first of such tenders for commuter services with another round of tenders expected early next year for commuter services between Dublin and Kildare.