Cllr. Ted Tynan of The Worker’s Party has accused the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport of being responsible for the present dire financial situation in Bus Éireann.
Cllr. Tynan said that since it was set up the NTA has been undermining actively Bus Éireann by issuing licences willy-nilly to private bus operators on the most lucrative routes such as Dublin Airport non-stop to many points throughout the country while insisting that Bus Éireann’s Expressway network has to service all the towns and villages on its routes.
He said that these private operators do not provide facilities at their terminals to their passengers, such as those found in Bus Éireann bus stations, but merely drop and pick up people at and from the side of the street, very often in dangerous locations like Cork’s Patrick’s Quay.
“This facilitation of private operators is in spite of the fact that such lack of facilities are in breach of EU regulations, something the NTA ignores when issuing licences.
In addition the drivers operating these private services are paid just a little over the Minimum Wage – reportedly €12.50 per hour with no enhanced rate of payment for Sundays or overtime. At the same time as it is pampering private bus operators and turning a blind eye to EU regulations the NTA has taken €2 million per year from Bus Éireann over the last two years which goes into the coffers of this Thatcherite Quango.
The Workers’ Party councillor has called for this money to be immediately refunded and has also called on the Minister for Transport Shane Ross to immediately instruct the National Transport Authority to only issue licences on a fair basis and which would ensure that all operators would have to have reasonable rates of pay and conditions for their staff, including a pension scheme and provide proper Bus Stations at all major terminals in accordance with EU regulations on this.
He also called for most of Bus Éireann’s current loss making Expressway routes to be funded as social services as they serve small towns and villages and are not viable commercially.
Cllr. Tynan also called on the minister to disband the NTA and transfer its functions to the CIE holding company which is the way most European public transport is owned and regulated, with the owner also the regulator such as the RATP in the Paris region.
He said that failure to take these steps will lead to the demise or privatisation of Bus Éireann -“but then that is obviously the Fine Gael and NTA agenda”