Concern over Cork's BusConnects raised in Dáil

Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry expressed concerns about competition between Bus Eireann and private operators for routes in the new BusConnects Cork network.
Concern over Cork's BusConnects raised in Dáil

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry expressed concerns about competition between Bus Eireann and private operators for routes in the new BusConnects Cork network.

CONCERNS have been expressed in the Dáil about the proposed BusConnects plans for Cork, as a North Cork Central TD warned that privatisation of city bus routes would be “bad news for commuters and workers alike”.

The NTA is investing over half a billion euro in the new BusConnects network, to transform Cork’s bus system. The plan promises that bus journey times will be cut in half, with 75km of new dedicated bus lanes, across twelve proposed sustainable transport corridors to the north, south and west of Cork city.

However, speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Socialist Party TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry expressed concerns about competition between Bus Eireann and private operators for routes in the new BusConnects Cork network.

"The BusConnects Cork proposals have many positive elements that I fully support including more bus lanes, more cycle lanes and significant cuts to bus travel times… However, the fact that Bus Éireann will be forced to compete with private operators for the tenders to run the 12 BusConnects routes is a dealbreaker for me,” he said.

Mr Barry warned that Bus Éireann could be forced to drive down wage costs in order to compete with private operators for route tenders.

He drew attention to pressures that are already present on wages for Bus Éireann workers, with the company recently proposing a two-year pay freeze.

“Bus services should be run for public need not private greed and privatisation of Cork City bus routes would be bad news for commuters and workers alike,” said Mr Barry.

“While the BusConnects Cork proposals contain many ideas and initiatives that I like and would like to support, as an advocate for workers’ rights I cannot support a plan that has a privatisation agenda built into it from the get-go.”

In response, junior minister Ossian Smyth, speaking on behalf of the transport minister, said that BusConnects plans across five cities in Ireland was part of a Government commitment to “fundamental change in the nature of transport in Ireland”.

The NTA is investing over half a billion euro in the new BusConnects network, to transform Cork’s bus system. The plan promises that bus journey times will be cut in half, with 75km of new dedicated bus lanes, across twelve proposed sustainable transport corridors to the north, south and west of Cork city. Pictured is NTA CEO Anne Graham; Sorin Costica, COO, Dublin Bus and Andy Edwards, MD, Go-Ahead Ireland.
The NTA is investing over half a billion euro in the new BusConnects network, to transform Cork’s bus system. The plan promises that bus journey times will be cut in half, with 75km of new dedicated bus lanes, across twelve proposed sustainable transport corridors to the north, south and west of Cork city. Pictured is NTA CEO Anne Graham; Sorin Costica, COO, Dublin Bus and Andy Edwards, MD, Go-Ahead Ireland.

“We are putting in place the infrastructure, services, and structures to reduce car dependency and to implement a major shift towards sustainable mobility,” Mr Smyth said.

“We’re taking actions that will pay dividends in future years.”

He said that a new leadership group led by the Department of Transport would work collaboratively with relative stakeholders to drive the implementation of the BusConnects programme.

BusConnects Cork entails a €600m investment and includes nine measures that will transform Cork’s bus system and make public transport more useful to more people.

A number of the initiatives are already under way including the redesign of the bus network in the Cork metropolitan area, which had two rounds of public consultation during 2021.

The feedback received by the NTA during these consultations will inform the basis of the final redesigned network.

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