Thursday, 7 November 2013
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Public Service Obligation Services
39. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for the tendering out of Dublin Bus routes to private firms and the implications this will have for the terms and conditions of Dublin Bus drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47177/13]
51. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the analysis he has undertaken into the impact of the ending of Dublin Bus's five year public service obligation contract in 2014 and the reduction of its subsidy by a further €4.5 million; if he will ensure that this will not be another taxi style deregulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46898/13]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 and 51 together.
The objective of Government is to ensure a system of public transport throughout the country that is as efficient and as widespread as possible. In relation to the award of Public Service Obligation (PSO) contracts for the bus market, this falls under the remit of the National Transport Authority (NTA). The NTA is currently considering how best publicly subvented bus services will be provided in the future. The direct award contracts for the provision of PSO bus market services held by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann expire late next year. The awarding of the licenses for the services thereafter is a matter for the NTA, and not for Government, but I have kept the Cabinet updated on the process.
Where the NTA proposes to enter into a further direct award contract or contracts for bus services it is obliged to carry out a statutory consultation under section 52 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008. Under the legislation, if the NTA proposes to enter into direct award contracts, the relevant section states that “it may only do so where it is satisfied that the continued adequacy of the public bus passenger services to which the contracts relate can only be guaranteed in the general economic interest by entering into such direct award contracts". If it is not so satisfied, it must provide for some level of competitive tendering. As explained above, this is not a decision for the Government or for me.
The NTA conducted its work in accordance with the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 and statutory consultations in relation to the matter commenced on the 11th September and concluded on the 11th October. The NTA expects to announce its decision on how it intends to proceed before the end of the year.
It should be noted that it will be open to Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann to tender for any routes or bundles of routes that are tendered. The contract will go to the best competent tenderer who can provide the best service for the least subsidy. I would be disappointed if the outcome of tendering is anything other than an improvement in services or no reduction in service at the very least.
The NTA noted in its consultation document "Proposal to Directly Award a Public Bus Services Contract to Dublin Bus in 2014" that "tendering in the order of 10% of the services would ... leave 90% of services with Dublin Bus, a manageable downsizing to be planned for and achieved by that company."