The National Transport Authority, which is the transport regulator, has selected six subsidised bus routes in Waterford city, including the Tramore service, for competitive tender from December 2016, along with a number of commuter services to Dublin.
There is a strong tradition of private operators in the Waterford/Southeast region who can bid for these contracts. Bus Éireann will also be able to tender.
The Department of Transport is of the firm view that should these six city routes be taken up by a private operator, it will not undermine the viability of Bus Éireann’s operations in Waterford.
The Waterford Public Service Obligation (PSO) services to be tendered comprise about 16 buses, or 15% of the overall operation of the Depot. Commercial intercity ‘Expressway’ services, which aren’t subvented, as well as school transport, will remain wholly with Bus Éireann.
This is not designed to be a downgraded service — rather the opposite. This controlled pilot competition aims to generate higher commuter take-up, better value for money, and a lower State subvention requirement.
As per Bus Eireann’s current contract, the NTA will set and monitor service levels, timetables and fares. It’s intended that free State travel passes will be honoured by any new operator.
July 2, 2014
- Waterford Bus Éireann services are viewed as underperforming compared to city services elsewhere in the country. In particular the lack of weekend services is highlighted.
- Essentially, there were 0.8 million Bus Éireann PSO service passenger journeys in Waterford City in 2012 and 0.9m in 2013. The revenue from the Waterford City Bus Eireann routes in each of these two years was under €1million (€0.97m), equating to 1.5% of all Bus Éireann PSO revenues in 2012 and 1.4% in 2013. This compares to over 5.3% (or €3.6m) in Limerick and over 7% (€5m+) in Galway.
- Effectively Waterford has the lowest public transport commuter take-up of any Irish city. Census 2011 showed that in Waterford City & Suburbs only 3% of people use Bus Eireann commuter services, which was half the proportion in Galway and Cork (both 6%), and also less than Limerick (4%).
- If a Bus Éireann bid is is not successful, the existing drivers’ jobs will be protected under European Communities TUPE regulations (Transfer of Undertakings Directive of 1977) in that each employee’s contract of employment will automatically transfer to the new service provider.
- Bus Éireann can, with careful management (e.g. through retirement, or by moving drivers to other routes), reduce or eliminate the need to transfer employees if its tender isn’t successful.