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Saturday 23 September 2017

Rural bus route network is undervalued, says union

NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said this description illustrated a 'lack of understanding of the value of the integrated network the 23 Expressway routes provide'. Photo: Naoise Culhane
NBRU general secretary Dermot O’Leary said this description illustrated a 'lack of understanding of the value of the integrated network the 23 Expressway routes provide'. Photo: Naoise Culhane

Ian Begley

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has accused the National Transport Authority (NTA) of having a lack of understanding about the services provided by Expressway routes.

A report by consultants Grant Thornton recommended that Bus Éireann shut down its loss-making Expressway service, claiming it may be the most viable option given there were "limited strategic reasons" for the State to own a commercial bus business.

Such a move would result in the closure of 10 depots and the loss of 516 jobs.

The projected loss for the company this year is expected to be more than €7m.

The NTA said 80pc of Bus Éireann passengers travelled on subsidised services, which were under no threat, with just 19pc using its commercial services such as Expressway.

Read more: Bus Eireann chief: 'Expressway will stay' but company is facing insolvency in 18 months without changes

NBRU general secretary Dermot O'Leary said this description illustrated a "lack of understanding of the value of the integrated network the 23 Expressway routes provide".

He said that without these routes "a large swathe of rural Ireland would be left isolated".

"Transport planning does not exclusively revolve around market saturation on heavily populated corridors no more than it does on dismissing the needs of those who do not have access to the many transport options some of us enjoy in our bigger cities and towns," he said.

Separately, Luas operator Transdev announced it was looking to recruit new female drivers.

Currently, there are just eight female Luas operators, but with the opening of Luas Cross City expected to occur by the end of this year, the light rail company plans to increase this number significantly.

Transdev Ireland is hiring 29 new staff.

Irish Independent

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