Broad Political Agreement on retention of key aspects of the National Development Plan

February 12, 2009


On February 6th,  Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny called on the Government to scrap the National Development Plan (NDP), claiming it is filled with “unachievable” political targets.

Speaking the following Saturday 7th February, on RTE, the Taoiseach Brian Cowan, stated that the NDP will not go ahead in all its facets, as it was based on a forecast of 4% economic growth annually. Mr Cowen said that targetted expenditure would see significant investment in higher education and research & development.

He said it would also target efforts to bring business ideas to fruition in order to develop what he called a “smart economy”, and so generate jobs.

Mr Cowen also said that the global economic crisis had shown that membership of the European Union was critical to Ireland’s fortunes and survival.  Mr Cowen also said that people were concerned at how quickly the change in Ireland’s economic fortunes had occurred. He said that in some cases things would get worse before they got better, but stated that Ireland could come through this if the ‘right decisions’ are made now.

In immediate response, on the same day, the Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny stated that he welcomed the Taoiseach’s admission that there may have to be alternations to the National Development Plan.  Enda Kenny said that the focus of the plan must turn to labour intensive infrastruture projects.

It is unclear exactly what is meant by “labour intensive projects,” but it seems clear that the roads programme is intended to continue without pause or restraint. Just why Ireland needs an enormous roads network radiating out from Dublin instead of connecting existing cities (and their adjacent ports) by an interconnected roads and rail network remains unclear.




Details of Dublin Bus Cost-Cutting Measures

January 27, 2009


Dublin Bus will cut 290 jobs, scrapping the weekday Nitelink service and removing 1,000 scheduled journeys from its timetable. Commuters face far more infrequent services after the company’s  proposals to take 120 buses from eight garages from March 1, as part of a radical cost-cutting plan approved by Transport Minister Noel Dempsey

It was reported in the Irish Independent that the main losses will be at:

* Harristown, where 30 buses are being dropped.

* 40 buses will be dropped in total between the two Donnybrook garages, with 23 buses cut at the Phibsboro garage.

* Twelve buses are being cut at Conyngham Road, eight at Ringsend, six at Clontarf and one at Summerhill garage.

* The Nitelink service will be cancelled from Monday to Thursday and final departures on Friday and Saturday nights will be at 3am instead of 4.30am. 

Changes to the late-night service will be implemented at an earlier date than the other cutbacks, from February 2. CIE has also indicated that there could be more cutbacks on the way.

CIE’s ‘Cost Effectiveness Plan‘, presented to staff revealed “additional corrective action” may be required. There were angry exchanges between Dublin Bus and its workers at a fraught meeting at the Gresham Hotel  last Friday 16th January with some workers walking out in protest as it ended. Management told staff that a €31 million reduction in costs was “urgently required” after it suffered €10m losses last year and projected €31m losses this year. There will be a reduction of 290 staff across all grades, including 160 temporary drivers, executive, clerical, operations and maintenance staff. 

Dublin Bus has estimated a potential loss of €31 million in 2009. Public transport subsidies for CIE companies remain some of the lowest in Europe. The government abolished the public transport fuel rebate late in 2008 even though CIE indicated the loss of this rebate would add millions in additional costs to CIE companies in 2009.

According to the Labour Party, the elimination of bus routes and services will be a “devastating blow for commuters and will particularly hit low income workers many of whom have no option but to use public transport to get to work.” Commuters had already been hit with fare increases of an average of 10 cent from the 1st of January last.

However, what is most astonishing is that the Green Party members of government are prepared to support the decimation of critical public transport services across Dublin.”

The Labour Party went on to comment that if the Government was really committed to persuading more people to use public transport, they should do what other transport operators do and provide for a drop in bus and rail fares, rather than an increase.



Bus Eireann to be downsized as Government eliminates Public Transport for Roads Programme

January 20, 2009


Bus Éireann is to cut 320 jobs and its fleet is to be reduced by 150 vehicles. The company informed its 2,700 employees of the decision today.

Bus Éireann also outlined a cost effectiveness plan with measures it says are necessary to ensure its success in ‘a very challenging economic environment‘. In 2007 the company made a profit of €7m but last year it had losses of €9m and that figure was projected to reach €30m in 2009. The company says that the ‘unprecedented economic downturn’ led to a 4% decrease in Bus Éireann customer numbers in 2008. It estimates that there will be a further 5% to 6% fall in passenger numbers in 2009.

Last week, Dublin Bus announced 290 jobs as part of a series of cost-cutting measures. Dublin Bus is also withdrawing 120 buses, which is 10% of its fleet. Dublin Bus stated that no routes will be removed, but some services would be “amalgamated” and that the frequency of buses would be “adjusted” in some areas.

In 2002, former Transport Minister Seamus Brennan outlined proposals to privitise Dublin Bus services. He said that 25% of Dublin’s bus services will be franchised out to the private sector from the beginning of 2004. He described the new arrangements as “controlled competition“.

Mr Brennan also set out proposals for abolishing the CIE holding company and allowing the three subsidiariesIarnrod Éireann, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus – to exist as independent entities.


CIE‘s losses are minimal compared to the NRA’s huge and continuing cost “overruns, ” (€10 billion in 2004) which are simply being offloaded on to the taxpayer.

With regard to public transport, the real agenda is the forced elimination of public transport passengers onto the road network and the planned privitisation of CIE, which has been promoted since  the 1980’s.


Public Transport Services to be Axed

January 13, 2009


Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has said Public Transport Services are to be cut back in 2009.

 Hundreds of jobs at Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann are now at risk as management and unions meet in the coming days to discuss the financial situations at both companies.

Dublin Bus has confirmed it will outline the findings of a review it has carried out into financial problems facing the company as a result of the economic downturn and it plans to address these problems to staff and trade unions on Friday the 16th January.

Plans by the government to make cuts on public transport in Ireland have been in the works for some time, with a consultants report recommending massive changes to transport provision.

Routes known to be  “under performing” are to be eliminated. It is expected that Dublin Bus will propose the withdrawal of 10% of the Dublin Bus fleet which would amount to around 120 buses and could result in the loss of up to 200 jobs.

Speaking to RTÉ News, the Minister said that some lessening of public transport services was inevitable given the difficult year companies face. In December the Minister informed Dáil Eireann that there needed to be ‘rationalisation’ within Dublin Bus. Dempsey stated that Dublin Bus was considering a number of options including the reduction in frequency or the complete withdrawal of buses from some routes.

In 2008, the parent company CIE reported a €39.5m operating deficit due a drop in demand for its services and increased fuel costs. The Department of Transport have confirmed that a cost efficiency review of CIE is still under way and the findings are due to be sent to the Minster in the coming weeks.

The harshness with which CIE’s debts are being regarded by the Government is in stark contrast to the latitude being granted the National Roads Authority’s cost overruns, up to €16 Billion in 2008 according to one source.

The Comptroller and Auditor General has previously expressed concern about the huge increases in spending on roads projects.  In 2002 the NRA was summoned before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), to explain a massive €6.6 billion overrun. By 2004, the overrun had gone up to €10 billion

In 2005, PAC chairman Michael Noonan said the interim report would support Prime Time’s claims (‘The Money Pit’ Monday, 9 May 2005), that 30 road projects originally cost at €6 billion would end up costing the taxpayer €18 billion.

The only alternative to public transport is the Government’s tolled motorway network. There has been no viable explanation as to why Ireland, alone of any country in Western Europe, needs such an expensive road system, to the increasing disadvantage of public transport.