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Sunday 20 October 2019

Dublin Bus cuts 290 and slashes services

Anne-Marie Walsh Industry correspondent

DUBLIN Bus is axing 290 jobs, scrapping the weekday Nitelink service and removing 1,000 scheduled journeys from its timetable.

Commuters face far more infrequent services after the company yesterday unveiled proposals to take 120 buses from eight garages from March 1, as part of a radical cost-cutting plan approved by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey.

Opposition parties attacked the Government and singled out the Green Party for criticism following the announcement.

They said it had "abandoned" its core principles and supporting the "decimation" of crucial public transport services.

But Communications Minister Eamon Ryan, speaking on Newstalk, warned Dublin Bus that the Government may intervene over the company's plans to cut jobs.

Figures seen by the Irish Independent reveal that the main losses will be at Harristown, where 30 buses are being dropped.

And 40 buses will be dropped in total between the two Donnybrook garages, with 23 buses cut at the Phibsboro garage.

Twelve buses are being cut at Conyngham Road, eight at Ringsend, six at Clontarf and one at Summerhill garage.

The Nitelink service will be cancelled from Monday to Thursday and final departures on Friday and Saturday nights will be at 3am instead of 4.30am.

Changes to the late-night service will be implemented at an earlier date than the other cutbacks, from February 2.

CIE has signalled there could be more cutbacks on the way.

Its 'Cost Effectiveness Plan', presented to staff yesterday revealed "additional corrective action" may be required.

SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor said the plan was "directly contrary to the Government's objective of taking private cars off the roads and easing congestion in the city".

But Dublin Bus claimed its strategy of reducing the bus fleet by 10pc "will have as little impact as possible on the majority of our customers".

The company said losses were also due to a drop in passenger numbers, and increased costs "particularly in the areas of wages, loss of fuel rebate and restrictions in subvention".

There were angry exchanges between Dublin Bus and its workers at a fraught meeting at the Gresham Hotel yesterday morning and some workers walked out in protest as it ended.

Management told staff that a €31m reduction in costs was "urgently required" after it suffered €10m losses last year and projected €31m losses this year.

There will be a reduction of 290 staff across all grades, including 160 temporary drivers, executive, clerical, operations and maintenance staff.

It also revealed plans to defer payment of the national wage agreement and wants agreement with trade unions on all the measures by March 1.

However, it accepted it would review the situation on the pay pause next December.

SIPTU branch organiser Pat Ward said there was "a lot of emotion among the workers".

"In no circumstances will we accept a compulsory redundancy situation. Job losses are unprecedented at Dublin Bus."

SIPTU worker director Bill McCamley said workers were "disgusted".

Labour spokesman on transport Tommy Broughan described the "massive cutbacks" as a "devastating blow for commuters". He accused the Green Party of an "appalling surrender" and abandonment of their core principles by supporting the "decimation" of critical public transport services.

He blamed the government for abolishing the public transport fuel rebate last year although CIE indicated the loss of this rebate would add millions to costs.

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