Monday 26 September 2016

Ross is standing still, not moving forward

Published 08/09/2016 | 02:30

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

They say that a willingness to meet half way only works if one is able to judge distance correctly.

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It is hard to know precisely how far apart management and unions are at Dublin Bus, but there are light years between what the public expects from its transport service and what is being offered. Today, hundreds of thousands of people have had to make alternative arrangements to get to work. School children and people trying to meet hospital appointments have all been left high and dry. Given so many have been affected, the lack of urgency on the part of the Government to do something about the breakdown is astonishing.

Transport Minister Shane Ross, who still has no regrets about describing his brief as a "doddle", is facing six days of transport chaos in the capital. Luckily for him, he has a driver at his disposal, should needs require.

Despite the stoppages and the misery being visited on commuters, Mr Ross did not deem it prudent to meet either side for fear of giving the impression that the State's cheque book might be called upon. Doing nothing when the public has to pay for the consequences is a high-risk option. As the minister with executive authority, Mr Ross is the man in the firing line. Surely, he had other cards to play with so much on the table?

According to himself, he is "open" to meeting the unions involved - Siptu and the NBRU, but "the unions haven't requested to meet me at all. If they wish to meet me, I'll certainly consider it. I've no reason for not meeting them..."

Perhaps Mr Ross ought to be concentrating on the reasons why he should intervene. Firstly, there are the 400,000 commuters. Then there are the financial penalties of €200,000 per day Dublin Bus will face from the National Transport Authority - not to mention the €3.6m cost to the company for the stoppages. Finally, there is the cost to business. The Luas strike earlier this year was estimated to cost up to €15m. Surely a Transport Minister ought to understand that standing still is not the best way to move forward - especially not during a bus strike.

Irish Independent

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