Shane Ross insists he has no plans to privatise public transport services

Minister admits state subsidies for services for bus and rail services are not high enough

Luas, strikes, Shane Ross, costs, taxpayer, Transdev, SIPTU, Dail

Transport Minister Shane Ross at Government Building in Dublin | Image:

Transport Minister Shane Ross has insisted he has no intention to privatise any public transport services while he remains charge.

But the Independent Alliance TD told the Oireachtas transport committee that he will not intervene in Bus Éireann plans to transfer some of its Expressway services into private hands.

The move is being opposed by its workers and is currently the subject of a ballot for strike action.

However, Mr Ross said that while he is the shareholder in the state-owned company, he will not interfere in its commercial decisions.

"I didn't intervene in any way with their plans," he said of Bus Éireann's decision to separate the loss-making service from the company. "I didn't express approval or disapproval."

The Dublin Rathdown TD admitted that the state's subsidy for public transport services should be higher.

But he said the government simply lacks the funding to increase subventions to services such as Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail.

Mr Ross added that the transport sector consumes cash at a major rate but that he is open to suggestions about how to manage it better.

"If you, Deputy [Robert] Troy, want to come up to me any time with proposals about how these could be funded at an earlier date and where the money is to come from, I would be the first to welcome them and actually credit you."