Ireland pushes for bus privatisation

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £2.99.
Proposed Dublin Bus services up for tender are the orbital routes and some local routes around the city
Proposed Dublin Bus services up for tender are the orbital routes and some local routes around the city

10% of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann could be up for commercial tender from 2016

The National Transport Authority has launched a public consultation process on its plans to introduce commercial tendering.

Its current proposals include continuation of existing service allocation to Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann for 2014 but to amend the contracts and offer 10% of the those services for commercial tender from 2016.

The consultation documentation sets out the rationale for the Authority’s proposals in relation to the direct award to Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann of new contracts to operate Public Service Obligation bus services in and outside the Dublin area from December 2014. A direct award contract is one awarded to an operator without competitive tendering, as permissible under national and European Union legislation. Coupled with this is the Authority’s proposal to extract 10% of services from these contracts and to award those by competitive tendering with operations starting in 2016.

The Authority considers the general economic interest would be best served in the next five years by Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann retaining a substantial proportion of services but not all services. It believes tendering in the order of 10% of the services would be of a scale which would encourage good competition and provide a satisfactory-sized operation against which to benchmark the existing operators. In the case of Dublin Bus services, the proposed routes being open to tender would be the orbital routes and some local routes around the city, e.g. routes 17 from Rialto to Blackrock, 33b Swords to Portrane and the 111 Dun Laoghaire to Loughlinstown service.

For Bus Éireann services, the NTA says a number of options are available, including: All city services in Waterford; Some city services in Cork; Some rural stage carriage services in the south east region; and certain Dublin commuter services.

Possible combinations are: Tender the Waterford City and portion of Cork city services together; Tender either the Cork city portion or Waterford City services together with a portion of the Dublin coastal commuter services presented above; or tender the Waterford city and South East stage carriage services.

Gerry Murphy, CEO of the NTA said: “These proposals are carefully balanced to introduce competition into the bus market in a structured manner which safeguards the delivery of services for the customer and maintains the on-going improvement of the public’s bus services. Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann will be able to plan for tendering and a possible downsizing if they are unsuccessful. Private bus operators will be able to compete for 10% of the market while the public will always have an integrated product offering although it may be delivered by a variety of operators. Experience from a range of countries has shown how competition has improved efficiency and services. ” The deadline for submissions on the consultation process is 1700hrs on Friday, October 11, 2013.

Full details of the proposals can be viewed at: www. nationaltransport.ie