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Night buses for Dublin on the table as part of 'D-Day' for privatised bus routes

The NBRU is attempting to delay the tender process for 10% of Dublin’s routes.
Nov 14th 2014, 9:50 AM 14,105 59

TRANSPORT UNIONS ARE describing today as ‘D-Day’ in their battle to prevent the privatisation of more than 20 bus routes in Dublin.

The National Bus and Rail Union and the National Transport Authority will meet at the Labour Relations Commission today as the tender process for the private routes is set to begin next month.

“We’ve been trying to dissuade them from what they’re doing,” says the NBRU’s Dermot O’Leary. “This would allow us to at least have a necessary debate about the future of public transport.”

O’Leary says the “bigger picture” at play is that the NTA is seeking to introduce the “London model” to Ireland.

He told TheJournal.ie that “while people may associate the London model with red buses”, over the last number of years there’s been a “massive increase” in cost to the UK tax payer in subsidies for private services.

He says the union also fears a “diminution of driver conditions” and “race to the bottom” as observed in other privatised industries such as waste management.

Local Dublin routes, like the 33b between Swords and Portrane or the 63 between Dun Laoghaire and Kiltiernan are examples of the tendered routes with next month the deadline for “pre-qualifying”.

This stage will essentially  vet approved expressions of interest and it is understood that Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus will tender for the routes.

Other issues are expected to be on the table as part of upcoming discussions include the expansion of services, the introduction of nighttime routes in Dublin City and Government funding of the public transport system.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Transport Minster Paschal Donohoe says that he feels that private competition is needed, in part because the coming years will see a ”far bigger bus market than we have now”:

I’m absolutely committed to ensuring that we have well funded public transport companies that are able to deliver the services that people need, but that can’t go ahead without a certain degree of competition.

Asked whether the privatised bus routes can go ahead without the support of unions, Donohoe said the Government position is clear.

“The policy decision has already been made on this, the legislation has been passed by the Dáil to be implemented by the Government.”

Read: Dublin Bus fares are going up again >

Read: EU tells Ireland: You must follow rules for Bus Éireann scheme >

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Rónán Duffy

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