Bus-owners face increases in '€20-a-year' licence fees
Bus owners are facing a hike in the fees they pay for licences.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) is to increase the cost of bus licences after it emerged that the State is collecting just €44,000 a year in licence revenue from the country's commercial bus fleet.
Bus operators are required to have two licences, one to carry paying passengers and a second to run buses along a particular route.
Figures released by the Department of Transport show that commercial operators are paying as little as €101.58 for a five-year licence to carry passengers, an average of €20 a year.
A bus route licence costs just €7.62, while the cost of renewing it every year is €2.54. The fees were last reviewed in 1955.
An 'occasional' bus licence for one-off events such as concerts, costs a mere 65 cents, little more than the cost of posting the licence application.
Passenger licences generate an average of €39,000 a year for the State coffers while bus route and "occasional" licences raise about €5,000 a year.
The astonishingly low fees are in stark contrast to the turnover generated by some of the private coach operators. Citylink, which operates routes in Galway, is owned by the world's second largest transport group, ComfortDelGro, which had a turnover of $1.5bn (€1.1bn) in 2008. Aircoach, which runs coaches to Dublin Airport, reported a turnover of €18.6m in 2009.
Bus licence fees are being reviewed by the NTA, which will take over responsibility for issuing bus licences from the Department of Transport.
A Department spokesperson said: "The National Transport Authority is currently considering a new fee structure for annual bus route licences." The bus sector is being overhauled by the Government, with the aim of modernising an archaic national bus licensing regime for public and private operators.
The NTA was set up by the government last year to implement this policy.