Ross signals more money for public service bus routes

Government will facilitate talks between unions and Bus Éireann to tackle crisis

Shane Ross is expected to signal that the Government is prepared to provide more money to Bus Éireann for its non-commercial services.

It will also indicate it will assist in facilitating talks between unions and management without preconditions for tackling the crisis currently facing the company.

However, in a presentation to the Oireachtas transport committee today, the Minister for Transport is again expected to rule out the provision of State funding for the loss-making commercial Expressway coach services.

Radical cuts

The Minister’s comments will come a day before trade unions representing the 2,600 staff at the State-owned transport company are expected to announce some form of industrial action in protest at radical cuts to earnings which management has said will come into effect on February 20th.


Yesterday, Unite said its members in Bus Éireann had voted unanimously in favour of strike action.

Other unions such as Siptu and the NBRU already have a mandate for industrial action if the cuts are imposed without agreement.


Bus Éireann has argued that its financial position is precarious, that it is facing losses of up to €9 million for last year, and that it could run out of money by Christmas without drastic action.

In his presentation, the Minister is expected to say that the Government is committed to ensuring that public transport services are adequately funded with increases being allocated to the subsidised public service routes “as resources allow”.

He is also likely to say the Government will “review how best to ensure a sustainable funding model for the free-travel scheme”.

The company and unions have argued the State does not cover the full cost of the provision of free travel for older people.

Mr Ross is expected to tell the committee the crisis at Bus Éireann will only be settled by open, constructive and realistic engagement between the company and its employees.

However, he will maintain that, despite all the accusations and counter -accusations about the future of the company, there are signs of hope.

“Amongst all the noise, we heard two clear messages. The first was that trade unions are willing to engage on the basis of no preconditions. The second was the acting chief executive confirming to the committee [last week] that nothing he has said or issued in recent weeks constitutes preconditions.”


He is expected to say that the Government is ready to assist any such talks between unions and management at the company “through the work of the

Workplace Relations Commission

and the Labour Court”.

The Minister is also likely to say that the Government will give an assurance to the people of rural Ireland that that National Transport Authority has statutory powers available to it to ensure that they will not lose connectivity as a result of any changes to the Bus Éireann network.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent