THE warning given to the Cabinet yesterday by Transport Minister Shane Ross yesterday afternoon about the precarious financial position of Bus Éireann was sobering but hardly surprising.
He pointed to losses of €5.6m last year and warned the company could be insolvent within two years unless something changes. Mr Ross offered this analysis at a moment when Bus Éireann face a pay claim of up to 21%.
His warning pushed the age-old quandary — the impossibility of providing good social services on a low tax base — to the front of the public square once again.
Public transport is subsidised all around the world and we should be proud to do the same. However, the varying social value of public transport cannot mean subsidies are infinite. Like it or not, it seems that hard choices on less popular routes, pay, and possibly job losses, lie ahead. It’s either that or higher taxes or a rejection of pay demands. Any of those choices will meet stiff opposition better described as wishful thinking bordering on fantasy.
Basically, pay up or walk.
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