Bus Eireann plans to spend €10m replacing 10pc of fleet
BUS Eireann is to replace over 10pc of its fleet -- at an estimated cost of €10m -- despite plummeting passenger numbers.
The semi-state transport company will buy up to 70 new buses for commuter routes across the country, just 18 months after pulling 150 buses out of service and slashing routes because of the economic downturn.
And last night it emerged passenger numbers continue to fall at the company, dropping for the third year in a row.
In 2008, passenger numbers were down 4pc, followed by a 10pc drop in 2009.
So far this year, numbers have fallen by between 5pc and 7pc. But, despite the falls, Bus Eireann is seeking to purchase up to 70 new buses, the cost of which could be some €10m.
Bus Eireann now has a total of 600 buses in its fleet.
A spokesman said yesterday that new buses were more fuel-efficient and less costly to maintain. The older buses they are designed to replace will be transferred to the school transport service.
"Bus Eireann is seeking to continue its fleet replacement programme in order to reduce operational costs, improve efficiencies, enhance accessibility, and benefit the environment," he said.
He added that if the fleet was not replaced then running costs would increase. The company must also have 100pc of its fleet fully wheelchair-accessible by 2015.
New figures also show that passenger numbers across Iarnrod Eireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann continue to fall. Only Luas expects to see an increase.
Luas said that almost 21 million journeys had been made so far this year, and that it expected the end-of-year figure to be 26.9 million -- up from the 25.4 million who used the service in 2009.
The increases were because of the extension of the Red line to the Point, and the opening, over the weekend, of the €300m Green line extension to Cherrywood.