Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Robert Troy, has criticised Minister Shane Ross for his approach to dealing with the crisis facing Bus Éireann.
Deputy Troy made the comments after Fianna Fáil tabled a Dáil Private Members Business motion seeking to resolve the problems facing the semi-State body.
“It seems everyone else aside from Minister Ross recognises the enormous crisis that Bus Éireann is facing. The company reported losses of €5.3m in 2016 and even greater losses are projected for 2017. The cash reserves that the company has on hand are quickly evaporating and core services are at risk of being axed entirely,” explained Deputy Troy.
“It’s not tenable for the Minister for Transport to continue attempting to claim that he has no responsibility for dealing with a crisis which could result in the collapse of public transport services in communities right across the country. A recent report carried out by Grant Thornton suggests that the entire Expressway service may be closed down. This would have a devastating impact on our public transport network.”
Deputy Troy said the emphasis should be on how we can make the company sustainable instead of just solely focusing on cutting back on services.
“There is a future for Bus Éireann, but this requires investment in our public transport infrastructure,” he commented. “It’s important that the Government uses its powers as a stakeholder to ensure there are no destructive changes made to the Expressway service. The Government also needs to work towards a plan to restructure Bus Éireann with the consent of both management and workers. This requires Minister Ross to actually do his job and intervene in this crisis.
“There’s clearly a major problem with the licensing of routes which needs to be addressed by the National Transport Authority. It’s vital that wider concerns, such as rural isolation or whether competition is sustainable on a route, is taken into account when deciding to grant or refuse a licence. We can’t have a situation where the licensing system leads to a race to the bottom, which ultimately results in the withdrawal of services over time.”