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.