Dublin Bus to axe 150 drivers in service overhaul
Dublin Bus is to axe around 150 drivers on top of the 290 workers it let go last year, it was revealed today.
The company said the redundancies will be voluntary and will take place over the next 12 months as part of a root and branch review of its timetable across the capital.
A spokeswoman said up to 90 buses will be taken off the city's streets but the withdrawal will not affect customers as routes will be increased leaving waiting times for buses at five minutes.
But Fine Gael branded the plan a con job and claimed it was designed to ensure a monopoly for Dublin Bus.
Fergus O'Dowd, transport spokesman, said: "Dublin Bus's plans just don't stack up for passengers.
"It does make sense to review routes and end duplicate services, and especially to provide more orbital routes.
"But I believe Dublin Bus is now more concerned with the long-term survival of its monopoly status than with providing an improved service to passengers. And Transport Minister Noel Dempsey is committed to preserving the dominance of this public company."
The company last year announced plans to cut 290 jobs and withdraw 120 buses after blaming the economic downturn for a fall in passenger numbers and a massive loss in profits.
The spokeswoman said last year's cuts were linked with a €30m cost-saving plan but the latest round of job losses are due to the withdrawal of up to 90 buses.
She said bosses will enter talks with unions, but declined to say what would happen if they could not fill the 150 target through voluntary cuts.
"They are not compulsory redundancies," the spokeswoman said.
"We are going to sit down and negotiate this with our trade unions. Our objective is to do this on a voluntary basis."
Dublin Bus said its Network Direct project is being taken following the most wide-ranging review in the history of the company, under way since May last year.
Under the scheme, the company pledged bus routes will be straightened out with fewer diversions of Quality Bus Corridors, with the most direct routes operated from the suburbs to the city centre.
Dublin Bus said routes will increase, with the number of orbital services jumping from five to eight and the number of cross-city routes increasing from nine to 17.
A spokeswoman said no existing services will be cut.
The first areas to be affected will be Blanchardstown, Stillorgan and Lucan, where routes will be redesigned by July.
In Blanchardstown, the 37, 38 and 39 routes will be extended through the city centre to Ballsbridge and on to Belfield.
Joe Meagher, Dublin Bus chief executive, said the review was undertaken to ensure all customers would benefit from a better, more frequent service.
"The review of the Dublin Bus network was undertaken so that all of our customers could benefit from more direct, regular, frequent and reliable services operating on a network that is simpler and easier to understand," Mr Meagher said.
"We understand that change presents challenges. But it also presents us with a great opportunity - to re-design and modernise our network so that we can meet the needs of our customers, not only for today but also for the years ahead."
A spokeswoman also said the company will be implementing the recommendations of a masterplan unveiled by consultants Deloitte last year to make the transport firm more cost-effective and customer friendly.
But Mr O'Dowd said fewer buses on fewer routes would not make a better bus service.
"The only point of having a bus monopoly is to give the public a service it wants and needs, and to benefit the economy.
"Yet the public was not consulted in this review. We don't even know whether outlying areas which have been poorly served will benefit under the new plan. So how can Dublin Bus claim that passengers will benefit?"
The company said it will alert passengers of changes through an extensive marketing and advertisement campaign.
It also said a series of focus groups were held to obtain views and information from users about what they wanted from the service.