The NTA have today published a report confirming that they are proposing to offer a further Direct Award contract to Bus Eireann from 2019-2024 for the majority of existing PSO routes, however 10% of the current routes will be tendered out, which appears to be due to poor performance.
Haven't had a read through everything (links at bottom of post) but there are a few things that have jumped out based on having a 5 minute skim through, I'm sure someone else will spot something else.
The 10% will come from a quota of the following routes:
The NTA report proposal states as part of it's reasoning
Later on in the documents, the NTA also retains a clause to tender further routes if operational performance within Bus Eireann does not improve.
Similar to the Dublin Bus Contract, there is also a clause about changes to services and that if BE do not offer fair costs, take too long to implement changes, or fall short of performance standards, they reserve the right to competitively tender said services
Related Docs Here
- BE Consultation Paper
- BE Contract Proposal
- BE Technical Report
This might raise a few questions in regards to what the minister previously said in statements during the Dublin bus / Bus Eireann strikes regarding the original 10% of routes, where he said he would not be tendering out anymore than that original 10%.
Aswell as agreements made at that time in regards to that (which I'm not 100% up on so maybe someone can find the documents or word it better)
Edit: whoops never mind, I see you're still editing ! Many thanks.
[Is there any indication of which routes may be up in the next 10% ? (Totalling 20% of routes.)
As far as I'm aware at the moment, these are in the eastern region, Dublin commuter such as Kildare , Wicklow, Drogheda etc but I have no idea of which routes they are considering.]
The routes that are proposed to be tendered are mainly the ones that BE have delivered a poor level of performance on over a considerable period of time which has led to suffering for commuters.
Not a day goes past when there is a post on the Bus Eireann website about services in the Eastern region being disrupted. This is not acceptable in my view and it seems that the NTA has taken the same view.
This isn't even about industrial relations or previous agreements - If a public transport operator does not provide an acceptable level of service to the public on a route for a considerable period, then I believe that this has to be addressed - ultimately it seems the NTA are doing that here.
Looking at the routes listed, I have to agree that poor performance is a major issue, I cannot argue at all with this.
I can give many reasons as to why , which include major failures of LD type vehicles on the 133, lack of drivers available for 133 and 103 and so on but it doesn't change the fact really.
The LD vehicle failure rate is very high, something I've ranted about before with passion
The other issue with Wicklow being the bad rosters in place and bad working hours, where by not many weekends off or your day being a 12hour 30min spread with 3 breaks in different locations giving sufficient rest and also optimizing driving time without going over regulation hours etc.,
Great for the company, bad for the driver who wants to spend time with family !
But again, there's no point arguing , the fact stands and it's true , so weather Bus Eireann can pull the finger out of their hole and get things right before it's too late is up to them, but from reading this, I imagine it's already too late.
The thing is the issues have been going on for ages at this stage, some of them I think date back to 2017 and honestly if they are not fixed by this stage then you have to wonder if they will ever be fixed and at the end of the day, it's a public bus service and the public in the Eastern region have not been getting a great level of service for a while now.
The fact they've proposed to strip these services out and put in a clause saying if services in other areas do not perform adequately they can do the same, is effectively the NTA saying to BE that they aren't minded to tender out BE services at this time, but they will if BE do not up their game, essentially sends a message out to all PSO operators that poor performance will not be tolerated and will be dealt with seriously which is exactly what a regulator should do.
Dublin Bus have retained their services for 5 years and have performed generally pretty well. I'd expect to see some changes in the DB contract around integration and they've also put a caveat in about BusConnects, but the fact they have not proposed any tendering of DB services and want to wait to see how Go-Ahead plans out suggests there is no big drive to tender services as some have suggested.
The view of the NTA very much appears to be to see how the previous tender winners of the previous contests get on and the differences between their performance and those of the legacy operators, before deciding on their next move in 2024, but not at the expense of allowing poor performance to go unchallenged until then.
Again I agree with your statement
Since it will be a separate contract, even though being taking away from Bus Eireann, I wonder what the chances are that Bus Eireann can bid for them, even though it sounds ironic.
The one thing I do have to give Bus Eireann is that their recruitment drive seems to be working , the hire in list from private operators is getting smaller every day and is nearly minimal now with the majority of services being operated by Bus Eireann buses and drivers.
As of this year despite the hiccup at the beginning, the services are being operated again by them etc.
I wonder also, is there a clause somewhere (even though not in the documents) that if BÉ do get the required staff and required services operated , that they may keep the above routes ? (I must point out the 103 / 133 I loathe and would be happy see go but I'm asking hypothetically)
They can bid for them - sure, the document states this.
However I wouldn't fancy their chances since I can't imagine Bus Eireann will score that highly on cost in a tender exercise and as for the quality aspect of things, the fact that they've previously operated such services to a poor quality, is also unlikely to help them with that side of the scoring, but that would depend on what the criteria was also.
The whole thing is a proposal and will be subject to public consultation so it's not a final contract - however i think any regulator that's worth it's teeth has to clamp down on poor performance and if the NTA allow BE to keep these services then they're going to be seen as somewhat of a soft touch and that's not good for consumers.
The only agreements were that there would be no threat to staff T&Cs.
Word is that this extra 10% may be just the start of an expanded tendering programme.
NBRU have issued a statement (see here) slamming this Thatcherite decision saying that it proves that it is all about ideology, despite the fact it's anything but. It goes to show that the needs of their members are always going to come way before the needs of the travelling public.
Since lunchtime, today for example, the people who depend on the 126 bus service between Naas, Newbridge and Kildare have had no bus service with very little notice given and this kind of disruption has been commonplace throughout the Eastern BE network over the last number of months.
Passengers are being let down by BE services in the Eastern region and are frequently left standing by the roadside for long periods of time because of missing services. That is why these routes have been chosen, and as a public transport system, we must always prioritise the needs of the many public, over the few at BE.
- DB performed well in the previous direct award contract and retained their routes
- BE performed well on some of their routes in the previous contract and retained them.
- BE performed poorly on some of their routes in the previous contract and may lose them.
That's not an ideological decision, it is one that is taken based on the performance of the relevant operators. And honestly, right now the NBRU should focus on ensuring their members in BE achieve the levels of performance that DB have, because if they don't, then this will just be the start of the dismantling of BE.
The needs of BE staff must never come before ensuring that patrons of public transport service are able to avail of services that BE are paid to and contractually required to operate using taxpayer funds. If we just allow non compliant operators to cancel trips on a regular basis and whole services at hours at a time then there's zero incentive to provide a good service and the public will be vastly worse off.
Well if BE don't up their performance levels, the NTA are going to retain a right to tender services to the open market, which is excellent news for public transport users as it sends a clear message out that operators who do not deliver a quality service to the public, will lose the rights to run such service.
Are they trying to get rid of BE slowly?
In other words the ordinary staff of BE must pay for the failures of the management of BE because that's what your words mean .
Do you think the widespread no-showing of bus drivers on the routes mentioned have nothing to do with the staff?
i'm nearly sure i remember it being mentioned on here that there aren't enough staff in the eastern region. + 1 particular class of bus having a lot of issues. so those would effect the running of services if those are indeed accurate.
if any of that particular class of bus are going to be transferred to a new operator if they win the tender, then that's going to cause anything from small to large performence issues depending on how many of those particular busses transfer.