Meeting hears concerns about 133 bus service
Concerns have been expressed over the potential privatisation of the 133 Bus Éireann service, which is the main commuter bus serving east Wicklow, including parts of Bray, Ashford, Wicklow town and Gorey.
Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady said the National Transport Authority had confirmed that they were proposing the route be included in a package that would be removed from Bus Éireann's contract and be competitively tendered.
Deputy Brady remarked: 'I am very concerned for the future of the 133 Bus Éireann route. In October the NTA said that they intended to tender out another 10% of Bus Éireann routes with the intention of Direct Award Contracts for public bus services from December 2019.'
They had, he said, recently seen the straightening out of the 133 route, with the bus no longer going through Bray town centre or stopping in places like Barrindarrig.
'I warned that the changes were being made so the route would be more attractive for the private sector; it certainly wasn't done for the public. Unfortunately that prediction now seems to be becoming a reality.'
Wicklow East Sinn Féin representative Muireann Dalton said: 'The determination of the NTA, supported by the Thatcherite ideology of the Fine Gael-led Government, to aggressively attack semi-state jobs cannot be allowed to go unchallenged by those from across the political spectrum that profess to oppose the privatisation of State services.' Deputy Brady agreed, saying the party was opposed to the privatisation of public transport services.
He added: 'As part of the consultation process, which is currently under way, we submitted a comprehensive submission outlining our opposition to the privatisation of more Bus Éireann routes.'
Ms Dalton organised a public meeting in the Parkview Hotel in Newtownmountkennedy on Thursday last which she said was well attended.
'Everyone who attended was a commuter. We had young people on apprenticeships to workers, to elderly people. Many are annoyed and frustrated. There aren't enough 133 buses at peak hours and, as a result, people are finding themselves in trouble in work. This is messing with people's lives and livelihoods.'
She said that she was against privatisation and felt that the changes to the 133 route in recent times were a case of 'making the public service bad so people would think a private service would be better.'
She feared that privatisation of the service would remove any public service aspect of the route. She added that the community would band together to put pressure on the government and NTA to sort the issue.
'We're asking the NTA to listen to commuters, to halt the privatisation process, and to put on more 133 buses at peak times. If the buses are full, the customers are there.'