Waterford commuters worried about future of bus routes
Waterford commuters have expressed major concern over the impact of bus route privatisation in the south-east.
The majority of routes in the city are set to be offered for tender - and locals are now worried at the implications for employment, spending within the south-east economy, and local fares.
Passengers are now facing four days of strikes as trade unions Siptu and the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) protest against he controversial proposals.
Waterford is renowned for its staunch pro-union stance and boasts one of Ireland's strongest labour movements.
"I think it is disgraceful," Teresa Collins said.
"I think it is disgraceful to the people of Waterford, to the bus drivers and to Bus Éireann staff."
Liz Murphy works in Hennessy's Centra, which is on Waterford's quays, directly across from the busy bus station.
"Bus drivers are great customers in the shop and of course any change in staffing levels would be very serious - not just for the store, but for the entire city," she said.
"I suppose my biggest concern is that employment isn't affected by the changes. I can understand why some people are very worried about it.
"I also think it is very important that all the existing bus routes are maintained. It would be a terrible blow for the city if some routes were to be axed or cut back."
Those views were echoed by fellow Waterford resident Catherine Hanrahan, who said any threat to marginal or less profitable bus routes should not be tolerated.
"To be honest, I don't know a lot about the changes they are talking, but I think that it is important routes are maintained."
Catherine McDonald works in Mary's Florists just metres from Waterford Bus Station.
"I don't know the details of what they are talking about, but my view is that bus drivers should be able to keep their jobs and that all bus routes across Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford should remain as they are."