News Irish News

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Questions remain on why services were outsourced

Vehicles parked at the Dublin Bus depot on Conyngham Road Picture: Collins Dublin
Vehicles parked at the Dublin Bus depot on Conyngham Road Picture: Collins Dublin
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The paying passenger, or those travelling on a free travel pass, will not be affected by the decision to outsource 10pc of the Dublin bus network to a private operator. Like Luas, the State will retain control of timetables and fares and will own the infrastructure, but services will be operated by UK firm Go-Ahead.

But there are questions surrounding this exercise, in particular the insistence by the National Transport Authority that it will allow Dublin Bus to offer more services on other unaffected routes. This assumes the Government is willing to fund those services, which is by no means a certainty.

There are also questions as to why Dublin Bus lost the right to operate these routes. The decision to outsource was taken by the last government, and it's hard to imagine that the contract could have been awarded to the incumbent.

While no worker will be forced to move, unions are critical of the outsourcing process, and are fearful of more routes being tendered out in the coming years. They are worried about drivers being employed on lower wages, but the NTA says it doesn't expect this to happen. That said, it is a matter for the new operator.

The fact that Dublin Bus won on price, but lost on technical or quality issues, is in itself interesting. The contract was not awarded solely on the basis of cost, but also on the ability to deliver services.

Given that the State owns Dublin Bus, which is also overseen by the NTA, it appears to be the case that it simply couldn't measure up to the private sector. The company has undergone a number of changes over recent years, including a dramatic cut in its Government subvention, but the most recent performance reports suggest it is exceeding all its targets. The fact the NTA doesn't believe it measures up should be a cause for concern. Just what does the department or NTA want from the company? Clarity is needed.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News