Thursday, 22 September 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I appreciate it. Are we surprised that passenger numbers are less than they were before Covid-19 when we have bus services as poor as that? I am a great supporter, and the unions know this, of the public service bus and Dublin Bus. The fact is that I simply have not had a complaint about a route that Dublin Bus operates. All four routes that brought to the Minister of State's attention are operated by Go-Ahead Ireland. I have found that the NTA tends to be much more sympathetic towards Go-Ahead Ireland in its parliamentary responses in terms of excusing this and that. Three quarters of the Minister of State's response was about the background of the response provided to her tonight. There is no suggestion or answer as to how this will be addressed, or what those second-level and third-level students, workers, hospital visitors, hospital workers, supermarket workers and people doing their shopping will do tomorrow when they are standing at a bus stop anywhere between Citywest and Ballyboden and every stop in between when their bus does not show up. In the case of students, they may be lucky enough to have parents who have a car on the road to get them to college or school or else they will have to find an alternative route.
I chaired the session on parliamentary questions to the Minister for Transport this morning when the Minister was in the Chamber and I did see and hear that. The Minister needs to call the NTA in now and say this is totally unacceptable. A good part of the Minister of State's answer revolved around how much the State invests in the public service obligation, PSO, contracts. Clearly, this contractor is not operating the contract in a fit-for-purpose manner. It is not meeting the public service demand or public demand.
I ask the Minister of State to bring back to the Minister the request that he call in the NTA, which is responsible for both the Dublin Bus routes and the Go-Ahead Ireland services that are provided in Dublin, and demand explanations. We saw the issue with school transport and how quickly it was responded to in rural Ireland. Buses were found from places and provided on the roads to service school pupils. Buses and drivers will have to be found for those constituents in my constituency and beyond who are left stranded at bus stops where timetables are not met but are still advertised as running according to normal. Some immediate action will have to be taken. I thank the Minister of State for her long forbearance on this. She can cut her answer short if it saves the Acting Chairman time.