No justifiable reason given at Transport Committee for privatisation of bus routes – Munster
Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has today expressed disappointment that her attempts at the Oireachtas Transport Committee to question the National Transport Authority on their policy to privatise bus routes were stifled by Committee Chair Fergus O’Dowd.
Today’s meeting of the committee heard from witnesses from the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) regarding traffic issues in Dublin. Deputy Munster attempted to question the assertion of a witness from the NTA that the privatisation of 10% of Dublin Bus routes will improve capacity, but Deputy O’Dowd refused to allow that line of questioning.
Deputy Munster said:
“The NTA has privatised 10% of Dublin Bus routes. A British company will be running these routes for profit in the near future.
“I wanted the NTA to explain how privatisation of services would help capacity issues, as asserted in their opening statement. I was told that the service provided by the private company will be ‘identical’ to the service currently provided by Dublin Bus, which is further evidence that the policy of privatisation is purely ideologically-driven.
“I also asked why the NTA wasn’t willing to invest in the state transport companies. These companies have run our transport services for decades, and have endured years of underfunding. Yet, once the going is good, the NTA decides to pay foreign multi-nationals to run bus services while the CIÉ companies remain grossly underfunded.
“We saw in Britain how disastrous the privatisation of public transport services can be. The NTA, despite all the evidence, is determined to privatise our public transport services.
“The NTA and Minister Ross have adopted a Thatcherite approach and it is clear that further privatisation is coming our way.
“When I tried to pry further as to the basis for putting bus routes out to tender, as opposed to investing in public transport, the Chair intervened and prevented me from questioning further.
“The chair of the committee appears to be uncomfortable when the ideologically-driven policy of the government is scrutinised.”