Expressway routes will be cut, jobs lost and lower pay introduced for new recruits under a survival plan rubber-stamped by the board of Bus Éireann.
The plan, which aims to save €7m, drawn up by consultants Grant Thornton was signed off on the same day as chief executive Martin Nolan revealed he will step down from his role, a year before he was due to depart.
Sources revealed the routes facing the axe will most likely be in the west of the country, while other routes will be sub-contracted.
It is also understood the company wants to cut the terms and conditions of the workforce of 2,600.
The company plans to invite unions to a meeting to discuss the cost-cutting plan before the end of the month, and will emphasise that it is implemented as a matter of urgency. Sources said the board was told that the plan was overdue a long time ago and should be rolled out at the earliest opportunity. Transport Minister Shane Ross last month warned that Bus Éireann is facing a financial crisis and could be insolvent in two years.
Mr Nolan's contract had been extended to February next year but it is understood he took the decision to go as "a new broom sweeps clean" following the recruitment of senior executive Ray Hernan to implement cuts.
Mr Hernan will now take over as acting CEO.
Mr Nolan's resignation follows the departure of a number of senior executives in recent months, including chief human resources officer Joe Kenny after over 30 years' service with the CIE Group.
In a statement, the outgoing chief executive said he believed now was the right time to go "to ensure a new team is put in place to manage the next phase of change and development at Bus Éireann".
"It has been a great honour to work with the men and women of this company and to have been centrally involved in the provision of significant national transport services on behalf of communities across Ireland.
"Given that my term of office - which had been extended - is due to expire and being especially mindful of the change management process which we have initiated, I believe now is the right time to ensure a new team is put in place to manage the next phase of change and development at Bus Éireann.
"I will assist and support this team in any way possible as it sets out to address new challenges and opportunities.'
A Bus Eireann spokeswoman said the board commissioned Grant Thornton to produce a report on the company's plans to create a viable company in the interests of all stakeholders.
Bus Eireann said it will present a implementation plan to union representatives over the coming weeks, which must address the competitiveness and efficiency needs of all areas of the business, “which are essential to secure the future for the company”.