Union threat as bus routes ‘privatised’

“Major industrial unrest across the public transport system” has been threatened if the Government continues to outsource public routes to the private sector.

The warning from the National Bus and Rail Union came after it was confirmed that Bus Éireann has lost six bus routes in the Dublin Commuter Area along the Kildare corridor to one of Britain’s largest bus operators, GoAhead.

It won the tender following a competitive process involving bids from Irish and international companies.

Anne Graham, chief executive of the National Transport Authority (NTA), said bringing a new operator into the market “will bring a fresh dimension to the sector”.

“It has also been the experience internationally that introducing some level of competitive tendering into PSO (public service obligation) operations like this usually results in a much better deal for passengers and for the public in general,” she said.

The NTA said it will determine schedules and timetables. It will buy 23 new vehicles for the routes, including 13 double-deck coaches.

Bus Éireann had bid for the Kildare corridor routes but was unsuccessful.

Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the National Bus and Rail Union said the “pro-privatisation Government” has thumbed its nose at the company “and syphoned these routes off to private operators, pumping millions of euro of taxpayers’ money into the pockets of the shareholders of large multinational corporations in the form of lucrative annual dividends”. He said his union will now focus on ensuring its members on the affected route will not be forced to move to “an inferior employer”.

Mr O’Leary said the “Tory-lite Government” would be wise to restrict the foray into the privatisation of publicly-owned transport services and said putting further Bus Éireann routes out to tender “will inevitably lead to major industrial unrest across the public transport system”.

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