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Morrissey telling half the story on bus franchising - Crowe

5 September, 2006

Sinn Féin Transport Spokesperson Seán CroweTD has accused Senator Tom Morrissey of telling only half the story in an Irish Times opinion piece where he called for the dismantling of our public transport system. In a comprehensive debunking of Senator Morrissey’s arguments, Deputy Crowe pointed out that the improvements in bus services in London is down to increased subventions and not franchising. He concluded by reiterating his call on Fianna Fáil to end the ‘sham political struggle’ on this issue with the PDs and deliver the promised busses.


The Dublin South-West TD said: “Writing in the Irish Times at the weekend Senator Morrissey claimed that it was London’s example that the PDs believed we should follow in the opening up of Dublin Bus routes. He omitted to mention a number of important points regarding London’s transport system.


“In 1994-95, the total bus subsidy in London was £199 million (sterling). Ten years on, last year, the subsidy was £783 million (sterling), an increase of almost 300%. Customers have faced substantially increased fares during that time. Between 1986 and 2000, tube and bus fares increased by 44% and 18% respectively. It has only been the efforts of London Mayor Ken Livingstone and additional subventions that has kept fares from further increasing.


“Pay for public transport workers has also stagnated, with the Mayor’s office being obliged in 2001 to introduce a bonus scheme. Workers employed by the bus companies were paid so poorly that the Mayor’s office had to subsidise their pay from private bus operators with an extra £20 a week.


“And none of these figures include a deal agreed in 2004 that will see the British government investing £10 billion over a five year period in the biggest state investment in London’s transport since the 1940s. Would that Dublin could get a mere fraction of that. Ironically, the privatised system is getting larger subsidies than the old public system was getting.


“To attribute increased bus usage in London to franchising is therefore grossly simplistic.  The reality is that it has been increased State funding that has improved the service. Where this funding has been absent in the rest of Britain, the franchising system has been a disaster, as Senator Morrissey acknowledges by ruling out this option.


“It has been measures like the just-announced abolition of fares for students under the age of 18 in full-time education and indirect measures such as the introduction of congestion charges, which have led to Londoners choosing the bus over private transport.


“In his determination to attack and undermine public transport in Ireland, Senator Morrissey turns a blind eye to the reality faced by Dublin Bus. The state subvention of 26% of operating costs, €65 million, is one of the lowest subsidy levels given to a European public transport bus company. It is the attempt by Senator Morrissey to punish public transport users in Dublin until the PDs get their way that is preventing further improvements in Dublin’s public transport system.


“We now have the ridiculous situation where the Coalition government is trying to be the opposition at the same time. A sham political struggle is taking place allowing Fianna Fáil to pose as determined to bring in the promised busses while the PDs pose as determined to take on the unions. It is nothing more than both parties playing to their respective galleries and it is past time that the Taoiseach put a stop to it.”



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