National Transport Authority (NTA) has assured passengers that no rural communities will be left behind if Bus Éireann routes are cut.
In a statement released on Wednesday February 22, NTA reminded and reassured of its role within the Expressway Crisis. It states that the authority’s responsibilities in regards to public bus services are: “Securing the provision of public bus services through two specified mechanisms: public service contracts, where services cannot be provided on a commercial basis, and the licensing of public bus services, which are operated on a commercial basis.”
It has also hit back at criticisms that the granting of commercial licences to operators is to blame for the current uproar. It also highlights that the authority has rejected almost as many applications as they have granted: “The National Transport Authority (NTA) rejects the suggestions that the granting of commercial licences to bus operators has been solely to blame for the difficulties being experienced by Bus Éireann. The notion that there is saturation on the inter-city corridors served by Expressway services, and that the NTA grants licences to operators at the drop of a hat, also does not stand up to scrutiny. In fact since 2011, we have rejected almost as many applications for licences on these key routes, as we have granted.”
They reassured that if Expressway services are cut, then NTA will ensure demands for public transport are met: “If it is the case that some Expressway services are discontinued at local level, NTA will, as our track record proves, step in and ensure that local demands for public transport are met. When Expressway Route 5 was terminated and Expressway Route 7 was curtailed, the Authority put a number of services in place by extending some existing Bus Éireann PSO services and by tendering new PSO services and new Locallink services. If there are any changes to Expressway services, we will carry out a similar assessment and not leave any rural communities behind.”