Reports suggest the company's financial position could be worse than feared with route cuts and job losses a possibility
The Minister for Transport has been accused of being “oblivious” to the problems facing Bus Éireann, following reports the company’s financial position could lead to route cuts, job losses and lower pay for new recruits.
According to The Irish Independent, the company has signed off on a new survival plan drawn up by financial consultants, Grant Thornton.
Martin Nolan, the company's CEO has also announced that he will be leaving his position a year earlier than planned.
Routes facing the axe under the plan will most likely be in the west of the country according to reports - while other routes will be sub-contracted.
The company could also be set to cut the terms and conditions of its 2,600 strong workforce, with unions due to be invited to a meeting before the end of the month to discuss the plan.
Late last year, Transport Minister Shane Ross said the company's finances were "critical" and warned the company could become insolvent within two years.
This afternoon, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on transport, Robert Troy said Bus Éireann’s financial position has “worsened considerably” since Minister Ross came into office.
He has called on Minister Ross to “acknowledge the difficulties facing the company and to set out his plan for overcoming them.”
“It seems that the Minister is oblivious to this problem and is unaware that the company is on the verge of shutting down many of its key routes serving large swathes of the country,” said Deputy Troy.
Bus Éireann annual losses
The company reported losses of €5.6m in 2015 with estimated losses for 2016 coming in at around €6m.
Deputy Troy warned that the company is now anticipating losses exceeding €7m for 2017 - with plans to “make sweeping changes to routes serving vast swathes of the country.”
“This is deeply worrying considering the improving economy and demonstrates that there is a fundamental problem at the heart of Bus Éireann’s operations,” he said.
“I fear that many large areas in between big towns and cities will have no direct Expressway services to Dublin or other cities. This is further evidence of the neglect of rural Ireland by Fine Gael and their Independent colleagues.”
Fianna Fáil plans to bring forward legislation to give the National Transport Authority (NTA) greater powers to “approve or reject route amendments by Bus Éireann and private operators.”
Deputy Troy said the legislation would push the NTA to include concerns - including rural isolation - in its decisions over whether to grant or refuse bus route licenses to operators.
“It is important that the future of Bus Éireann is secured, but the semi-state company must not abandon its obligation to serve communities right across the country,” he said.