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Bus Eireann drivers will be subjected to the new rules

Bus Eireann drivers will be subjected to the new rules

Bus Eireann drivers will be subjected to the new rules

DUBLIN Bus and Bus Eireann drivers will be fined if drivers are rude, buses are dirty and if the first and last service of the day leaves earlier or later than scheduled.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has also told the two companies they must respond to comments and complaints on Twitter within an hour as part of the changes.

New contracts signed this week between the NTA and companies allow for up to 5pc of payments to be withheld if customer service standards drop.

Increased reliability and punctuality targets are set down on early and late departures and excess waiting times, with a fine of up to €250 to be imposed for particular offences.

The contracts also provide for up to 10pc of routes in each company to be tendered to the private sector in 2016.

They include Waterford city and Tramore services and commuter routes from Dublin to Kildare and Offaly, currently operated by Bus Eireann.

Orbital routes such as Rialto-Blackrock and Blanchardstown Centre-Tallaght, as well as local routes including Dublin Airport-Skerries and Bray Railway Station-Newtownmountkennedy, currently provided by Dublin Bus, will be tendered.

As part of the contracts customer queries made via Twitter must be responded to within an hour and those received by e-mail within one day.

The first bus in the morning and last at night cannot leave one minute before, or five minutes after, the scheduled time or a €100 fine will be imposed. Late services resulting in a missed connection with another service incur a €250 fine.

On-street real time passenger information must be provided 98pc of the time, or payments will be withheld.

Bus drivers must be "helpful, courteous and polite", and drive the bus in a "smooth manner that doesn't unduly result in passenger discomfort". Equipment like wheelchair ramps must work, buses and stations must be clean.

COMPLAINTS

'Substantive' responses to complaints must be made within five days, while 90pc of calls must be answered by a 'person' within 60 seconds.

Bus Eireann said its new contract was worth more than €500m over the next five years, including €160m in public service obligation (PSO) payments to fund services which would otherwise be loss-making.

It expected to carry 200 million passengers up to 2019 when the contract expires, and the new customer services standards would be in place by the third quarter of next year.

Aidan Murphy, Bus Éireann chairman, said Bus Éireann "looks forward to the opportunity to build on our ongoing service improvements, over the next five years".

"This includes our wide network of public buses that serve the provincial cities, towns and villages across Ireland every day.

"The award is a tremendous recognition of the high standards we have delivered with the NTA over the past five years," he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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