Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the privatisation of 24 Dublin Bus routes as worrying and a threat to the overall bus network. The Sinn Féin TD’s remarks come after the announcement that a British commercial transport company, Go Ahead, will now be running 24 routes previously held by Dublin Bus, including 3 in the Dublin South West area.

“The announcement of the privatisation of these 24 routes is a worrying development for Bus Átha Cliath and its workers, regular Dublin commuters, and for anyone living and dependent on public transport along these routes. “The announcement was expected but worryingly we still don’t what impact these private buses will have on services. We know that current fares for commuters will stay the same, but we don’t know for how long. We know that the routes will stay the same, but we don’t know if it will impact on existing timetables. “We also don’t know if this will mean redundancies in Bus Átha Cliath but we do know it is likely that new drivers on the route will not get the same salary and work conditions as those that currently service the routes.

“We do know that 10% of the Dublin Bus routes are now being run by a foreign commercial transport agency and we do know there is nothing to stop the National Transport Authority (NTA) from increasing that percentage, or even privatising the entire fleet, as well as Bus Éireann. “Transport Minister Shane Ross is on record supporting the privatisation of bus services and he has the support of his Cabinet colleagues when it comes to privatisation. “Unfortunately private companies in the main have only one interest and that is in maximising their profit. They may articulate concern about passengers and commuters but the bottom line at end of the day it’s about making money. “Any public transport policy needs to be about providing a safe, reliable, affordable public service to ensure every citizen has access and a choice of transport in their local area. The current privatisation policy of bus routes is worrying and shifts the emphasis away from service provision to profit-making. Given that private operators have no interest in providing a service on routes that are loss-making this will put an unfair and onerous burden on Bus Átha Cliath.”

Crowe continued: “We need to ensure that Bus Átha Cliath does not lose out financially as a result of this move. Investment must continue, both in Public Service Obligation spend and in Capital Investment. “Private commercial transport companies such as Transdev and Go Ahead are given guarantees of payment by the NTA over fixed term contracts. In contrast Bus Átha Cliath does not know what level of capital or current funding it will get on a multi-year basis and this leaves the company at a disadvantage. “Bus Átha Cliath is currently reliant on the mood swings of Minister Ross and his Cabinet colleagues and this leaves it in danger of being left short financially as they are ideologically opposed to the public service model. “We all know from seeing the privatisation of vital transport services in other countries that services get worse, costs go up, it is nearly impossible to hold private companies accountable, workers are undermined, and it is nearly impossible to reverse. “The privatisation of these 24 routes is a worrying and dangerous development. “I am calling on the National Transport Authority to make a commitment that there will be no reduction in services along the routes involved, many of which provide vital links – such as the Number 75 – The Square Tallaght to Dún Laoghaire, the 76 – Chapelizod to Tallaght (The Square), and the 76a – Blanchardstown Centre to Tallaght (The Square).”