Private bus operators 'keen to compete' for disputed routes
A representative group for private bus operators said today they are 'keen to compete for subsidised routes'.
Private bus operators are keen to bid for the 10pc of subsidised routes which the Government has put out to tender, according to the Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC).
However, the CTTC said its members are 'disappointed' the Government did not decided to open the market up further ahead of its planned 'full liberalisation' on 2019.
The organisation has also cautioned that the pre-qualification requirements as currently stipulated would bar almost all (98pc) private Irish bus companies from tendering for the PSO routes due to be opened.
According to the pre-qualification requirements, private companies seeking to compete on Dublin bus routes will have to have a turnover of €30m and have at least nine million passenger journeys per year.
In Kildare, those seeking to operate routes will need a turnover of €7m and to have one million passenger journeys per year.
Companies hoping to run the Waterford routes will also need to carry one million passengers per year and will need a annual turnover of €3.5m.
“Private bus companies already operate on over 500 licensed routes on a daily basis throughout Ireland without any state subsidy. Yet almost all of these companies will be precluded from operating in the subsidised end of the market simply because of the size of their balance sheet," Kevin Traynor, national director of the CTTC said.
"The Irish travelling public and the Irish taxpayer would be better served were the Government to increase the level of liberalisation beyond the proposed 10pc of PSO, or state-subsidized routes.
"This would allow for the development of a properly functioning market ahead of full liberalisation in 2019 as mandated by the European Commission.
"At present private companies maintain a high-quality fleet which is as good if not better than that operated by the public sector without the €180m subsidy which Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann received last year."
Meanwhile, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann trade union members recently announced they will carry out planned industrial action on the Friday of the upcoming May Bank Holiday.
The workers voted in an ‘overwhelming’ majority to strike on May 1 against the bus privatisation plan.
The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) this afternoon announced the planned industrial action which will take place on International Workers Day.
The strike will include a two-hour protest march to the Dail and similar marches across the country.
The NBRU said today the Government 'in the guise of the National Transport Authority' had 'not moved a jot' in addressing the concerns of bus workers.
In a statement, the union said it will be ‘a day of action against Government plans to tender out 10pc of existing bus routes’.
“Our members in Dublin Bus (92pc) and Bus Eireann (91pc) have given us an overwhelming mandate to challenge this ill-thought out policy, we have today advised Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann the NTA, the Department and the Minister that our members will engage in Industrial Action on the 1st May,” NBRU General Secretary Dermot O'Leary said.
“The details of the action will be communicated to the parties one week in advance but will include a two hour protest march to the Dail from 11am to 1pm, similar protest marches will take place across the country in all major urban centres".