Updated: 28/03/17 : 06:03:00
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Call for privates buses to fill escalating strike void

As SIPTU is set to ballot its members at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail for industrial action in sympathy with their colleagues in Bus Eireann it has emerged that private bus companies cannot immediately fill the void left by the striking Bus Éireann workers.

Current legislation only enables private operators to increase the number of services they run daily on their licensed routes, but they cannot start new routes that they are not licensed for.

However the National Transport Authority insists that private bus operators will be able to meet increased demand during the ongoing strike under existing State licences – even if it goes on indefinitely but it will not give permission to run new services on routes that are served only by Bus Éireann.

As the strike looks likely to escalate the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) has called for a comprehensive review and liberalisation of Irish public bus transport rules to cope with the dramatically increased business being experienced by private operators.

Brian O’Donnell from Bus Feda in Donegal said they were up 25 to 30 per cent on normal services. The company operates between Donegal, Sligo and Galway. “We’re managing. Nobody was left behind,” he said.

'Firing Line'

Aircoach, which runs services 24 hours a day from Dublin Airport to the city centre and also to Cork and Belfast from Dublin Airport, reported a 30 per cent increase in traffic over the weekend, but much of it had to do with the international match between Ireland and Wales.

Meanwhile following a meeting of representatives from the three CIE companies yesterday SIPTU said it had a mandate for the at Dublin Bus and Irish Rail vote because members believe they are "next in the firing line" if Bus Eireann forces through pay cuts and changes to terms and conditions.

The union representatives also discussed a planned protest in support of the Bus Éireann workers to be held at Leinster House tomorrow, Wednesday, to coincide with a meeting of the Oireachtas transport committee that Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, is due to attend.

In Sligo, all town bus services are cancelled because of the strike with the routes to and from Strandhill, Rosses Point and Ballymote also lying idle.