Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane has said he is extremely worried by proposals to privatize 100% of Waterford’s bus service.
Senator Cullinane said:
“All five city bus routes in Waterford, as well as the service to Tramore, are to be awarded to private operators from 2016
“This is part of a larger plan by The National Transport Authority to allow private bus operators to tender for services currently operated by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus.
“The NTA’s proposals to hand over the public bus service to private operators has been criticised by the Competition Authority who said it was not obvious from the consultation process how the routes identified for privatisation were selected.
“The privatization of either part, or all, of the state’s public transport network is not in the interest of the public, of workers, or in the long-term interest of the state.
“I have to ask why Waterford is being singled out for this experiment. Are the Minister, his civil servants, and the NTA using the city as a guinea pig? This is a very dangerous experiment, where the NTA is confusing “value for money” with “cheapness”.
“Public transport makes sense. When privatization happens the state invariably ends up having to subsidize private companies, as in the case of London Bus. Instead of privatization we need a properly funded and affordable public transport network.
“Minister Varadkar should rethink this foolish and ill thought out plan.
“Private companies operate or the sole purpose of maximizing profit and not in the public interest. On the other hand a good public transport network operates in the public interest and provides a vital public service.
“We know that women, school children, people with disabilities, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and older people have a high level of dependency on public transport to get around. The Minister’s plans for privatization will disproportionately impact on them.
“I am very worried by this entire plan and serious questions need to be answered about the entire process to do with transparency and accountability.”