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There are many private bus/coach operators envying the simple solution of Dublin Bus to make ends meet- increase the fares!
This is a solution only available to a State company on a route protected under the new Transport Act and where competition is not allowed!
Many of you are asking what FOTO is doing to right this kind of wrong. What is anyone else doing? What are you doing?
Certainly FOTO continues to represent the interests of over 1,100 bus/coach owners within the present legislative framework and has its consultant, Mr. Frank King in the pivotal position on the Board of the National Transport Authority [NTA].
However, this representation can only work within such framework and cannot take actions that require serious ongoing funding or that promises serious commitment in the absence of otherwise proven difficulties in this model.
The reason FOTO is not doing anything about certain ”commercial benefit” issues is that whenever it does, everyone benefits, whether they pay for the service or not, evidence the fuel rebate when 1,300 operators benefited from the investment of 160!
Those who are prepared to pay are not prepared to allow others to benefit from their investment and have bought into their own limited company, ibus plc.
This is not a co-op, it is not a committee, it is a business. ibus plc. has proposed a new national network of services developed around the concept of a new National Bus Terminus.
This proposal is the only one on the table of the NTA by any organisation or other business within the Irish transport industry. It is shamefacedly challenging the new Authority to examine other transport solutions and the status quo that has protected outdated routes, non-commercial applications to those routes and a business model sustainable only by State subventions.
There are presently 150 Irish private bus/coach owners capable and willing to finance the research and viability studies required for this
major application to the NTA. It is their right to expect that they should benefit in the first instance.
The main concern for over 80% of Irish bus/coach owners is their School Transport contract. This has been the cornerstone of their business for over 30 years.
There has been a complete erosion of the value added of this contract in the last 2/3 years and for many it has become barely worth having except for the fear of losing it altogether. The reality here is that this contract is given to the State company, Bus Eireann, by the Department of Education with only the “tag” attaching that it shows a reduction on the previous year.
This is only achieved by Bus Eireann through continually reducing the price it pays to you the subcontractor by pitting you against each other. There is no competition applied to the services or routes of Bus Eireann itself and for so long as they can show a reduction in what it charges the Department of Education annually to provide the service, the objective is met!
We can challenge this too.
There is ample evidence to show that contracts such as this should be tendered in full. Such tender to include the cost of managing the contract, providing the service and maintaining the standards and safety any such service is obliged and should have.
ibus plc. has written to the Minister for Education pointing out that under a different business model there could be savings of up to €300m over a 5 year period!
Representation will not force this contract to tender. Legal action will.
Any international transport company, such as Stagecoach, First Group etc. could do it!
Bus Eireann could continue to do it!
ibus plc . could do it!
Now would be a good time for a challenge to this arrangement and no doubt there are others thinking the same.
It is important that you understand the implications of each of these options. It is now a question of when rather than if that this contract is managed by a large collective of small individual bus/coach owners [ibus plc.] or one large international or one State company.
Whoever wins the contract will have first choice and the less than attractive runs will be tendered out! ibus plc. is presently working on the most cost efficient way to force this contract to tender. It is also acutely aware of opening any opportunity to its competitors that it cannot exploit itself!
This is not a case of dithering nor is it a fear of competition, merely, a prudent approach to ensure the protection of its shareholders. It would not, for instance, be a good strategy to advise when or how. ibus plc. is capable of mounting this challenge and will do so.
I have never had so many queries about a subject before! Behind this proposal is the original concept of ibus plc.!
The events of the last 18 months have brought our country to its knees. We are doubting ourselves and our abilities. Our spirit is low and our hopes are dashed.
We need to pick ourselves up, get thinking, and then working. During the years of earlier depressions and wars people have reached extraordinary heights to overcome adversity.
Governments have responded to the spirit of its people by providing the base for stimulus and investment, America is a strong case in point when it built the Hoover Dam! Ireland can do the same. Ireland is pivotal to Europe.
We only hear of our island status and how peripheral we are to Europe and a ‘God help us’ mentality.
The Cuchulann Tunnel is the major stimulus for Ireland. It will create 10s of thousands of jobs. It will become the preferred route for the bulk of imports/exports for Europe to/from China/America. It will become the new Wonder of the 21st Century. It will generate major tourism.