The National Transport Authority has insisted that the routes will still be owned by the state
English firm Go-Ahead has been selected as preferred bidder for 10% of Dublin Bus routes, the National Transport Authority has announced (NTA).
The company is expected to begin operating in Dublin by the end of next year, and will operate all routes by February 2019.
The firm is one of the largest bus operators in London. It is also one of the two partners in Govia, the parent company that runs British railway lines such as the Gatwick Express and Southern.
Only Dublin Bus itself and Go-Ahead were involved in the final stages of the tendering process after four other firms dropped out.
According to the NTA, Go-Ahead offered the best value for money to run the 23 routes and a new route that is being created.
NTA Chief Executive Anne Graham argues that the tendering of the routes does not amount to privatisation, as "nothing is being sold" and fares & routes will not change.
She added: “The contracting model that we are putting in place is the same as the arrangement that we have had in place for years for Luas. Luas is owned by the state and run by Transdev.
"These routes will be owned by the state and run by Go-Ahead."
The announcement comes after a tendering competition for the 23 routes, none of which go through the city centre.
These are the bus routes UK firm Go-Ahead will be running in Dublin next year with some routes having single decker buses pic.twitter.com/wupSAQM6Vb— Juliette Gash (@JulietteGash) August 10, 2017
No Dublin Bus staff will be required to transfer to a new company as growth in passenger numbers means they are needed where they are.
Unions had previously secured guarantees about the process in labour talks.
However, the National Bus and Rail Union today said it is "disappointing" that Dublin Bus was not successful in the tendering process, claiming the Government has instead decided "to pump significant amounts of taxpayers money into the bank accounts of multinational operators".
General Secretary Dermot O'Leary said: "The NBRU will focus our attention on ensuring that our affected members on the privatised routes will not be forced to move from their current workplace.
"We will also move to recruit those new entrants that will work for the private operator to ensure that they will be properly represented and work with them towards achieving similar terms and conditions as those workers we represent in the state-owned companies."
Concerns were also raised by Solidarity TD Paul Murphy:
Privatisation of Dublin Bus takes a step forward with 24 routes going to private operators. Giant leap backwards for workers and commuters.— Paul Murphy (@paulmurphy_TD) August 10, 2017
A competitive tendering process is also currently underway for some routes operated by Bus Éireann in Waterford, with a similar process on the Kildare-Dublin commuter route.