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Posted on 5 Feb 2021 2:25 pm

Members of SAVE ROSCREA-NENAGH BUS EIREANN X12 BUS GROUP wish to comment on the points made in the Ministers Answer to the PQ.

This is what our Save the Buses Campaign Group says:

This is a proposed permanent withdrawal from 4 national routes. Bus Eireann is not suspending for Covid period, no, much worse . They are “Exiting”. The Covid Emergency is mixed into this narrative and justification. We are looking for bus service post-Covid. We hope this is not an example of an organisation “not wasting a crisis”and using crisis as cover difficulties in delivering service.

According the Ministers Answer, Private Buses eg. Dublin Coach, Kavanaghs, City Link have all received generous subsidies, but only Bus Eireann is exiting their routes? We need transparency on level of this tax payer funding.

The Minister says that funding extended to end April and there is prospect of more months. This keeps Private Operators going, but Bus Eireann exits ? We are used to the concept of Bailing out the Banks, and now Bailing out the Buses, but at expense of killing off the state Bus Company? Seems to be back to “privatise profits and nationalise losses” approach again.

The hyper competition has been licensed by previous Governments and NTA. 85% of buses will not stop at major Tipperary Towns passed. One Operator with a past record of selling on business to Multinationals will have 80% of Seats on route. COVID 19 is perhaps a Red Herring. The “significant financial pressure” has come from licensing to the point of over-capacity and the disadvantage for the Operator delivering on Social need.

A “National” bus company, owned by CIE a state organisation, with no national routes ? Is this really the goal?! Let´s remind ourselves, in case we forget: Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Belfast as the largest cities on this island.

When can the NTA assessment be made public ? What are the criteria for NTA decision ? Some transparency here please. Roscrea and Nenagh have lost 46% of their Bus Service long term. The frequency of mid-Day travel has significantly reduced. Huge gap existed in Commuter period: 5am -8am. No evening buses after 18.20.

We are supposed to be moving to a Low Carbon economy. How is this a step in that direction?
We want to strengthen the regions and take pressure off infrastructure in bigger cities. How does this fit?
We want viable tourism and enterprise in the Ancient East and Just Transition for the Midlands. How does this fit?
We want fair competition on level playing field – allowing One operator with 80% capacity and no obligations on route stops. How does this fit ?

NTA CEO, Anne Graham, said at Joint Committee for Transport and Communication on 2.2.2012 that the study has been completed for the X.8 via Cashel and that an Obligation has been identified and a PSO Funding model is now in place. Did we misunderstand, is this just temporary? The Ministers reply suggests the study has yet to be carried out.

The proposed expansion of services in cities reported by the Minister is no comfort for the fact that Bus Eireann have retreated from the primary routes for Dublin, Belfast, Limerick and Cork. National Services complement local service – delivering passengers for the final leg of trip. This needs joined up strategy, and this starts with licensing policy.

The Ministers writes of strong leadership and demonstration role, Leadership looks different to what is being witnessed here. The “public” public fleet is cowering in the cities – it has lost the battle in the country. Strong Leadership looks like a smart policy on obligations or compensations mechanism for Operators delivering on social and community needs. It needs an embracing of the rundown national Bus Terminus, it regulates operators for the good of society. It, to quote the minister, "leaves no town behind".

We encourage deputies to look at the over licensing on the national route. The dangers of predatory pricing and the loss of local pick-ups on these main routes. For now a commitment to return to pre-covid service levels once we have come out of this public health crisis. We will need to get all parts of the country moving again and stimulate a strong recovery.

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