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Bus Eireann - Proposal to Tender 10% of Routes in 2021

  • 01-10-2018 10:17pm
    #1
    Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,476 Mod ✭✭✭✭


    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:
    o 101: Dublin - Dublin Airport - Balbriggan – Drogheda
    o 101X: Dublin – Drogheda – Termon Abbey
    o 132: Dublin - Baltinglass - Tullow - Ballon - Kildavin – Bunclody
    o 133: Dublin Airport - City Centre - Ashford – Wicklow - Gorey
    o 103: Dublin - Ashbourne - Ratoath - Tayto Park
    o 103X: Dublin - Coolquay - Ratoath – Fairyhouse
    o 105: Drogheda - Ashbourne - Ratoath - Blanchardstown
    o 105X Dublin - Fairyhouse - Ratoath - Ashbourne

    The NTA report proposal states as part of it's reasoning
    Overall, Bus Éireann achieved a generally good level of compliance with the required reliability and punctuality performance obligations over the three year period 2015 to 2017 when looking at the services in total, although 2017 was a more challenging year. However,performance on individual routes in the Eastern region has been poor in recent times.

    It has also performed less well against customer service quality indicators, in particular revised and updated indicators based on the results of NTA commissioned mystery shopper surveys.

    Later on in the documents, the NTA also retains a clause to tender further routes if operational performance within Bus Eireann does not improve.
    The need for improved operational performance on certain routes, in relation to punctuality, lost kilometres, customer comments or the percentage of AVL data provided. Performance has been particularly sub-standard in the Dublin Commuter area, although issues have also arisen in recent months in certain regional cities and Cork city in particular

    In the case of above, in addition to the routes listed above, the Authority may also remove certain other poorly performing routes for competitive tender after direct award in December 2019, unless there is significant improvement in operational performance.

    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
    If in the opinion of the Authority either route or service level variation costs or implementation timescales proposed by Bus Éireann appear to be excessive, or the ability and commitment of Bus Éireann to meeting required performance standards is in doubt, the Authority reserves the right to competitively tender the services in question, in order to expedite the delivery of the network reorganisations in a timely and cost effective manner.

    Related Docs Here
    - BE Consultation Paper
    - BE Contract Proposal
    - BE Technical Report


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,966 ✭✭✭Kopparberg Strawberry and Lime


    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.]


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,476 Mod ✭✭✭✭devnull


    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%.

    As well 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)

    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,966 ✭✭✭Kopparberg Strawberry and Lime


    devnull wrote: »
    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.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,476 Mod ✭✭✭✭devnull


    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,966 ✭✭✭Kopparberg Strawberry and Lime


    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)


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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,476 Mod ✭✭✭✭devnull


    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.

    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.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,925 ✭✭✭GM228


    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)

    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.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,476 Mod ✭✭✭✭devnull


    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.

    In Summary
    - 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.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 17,642 Mod ✭✭✭✭Graham


    GM228 wrote: »
    Word is that this extra 10% may be just the start of an expanded tendering programme.

    Word from who?


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,476 Mod ✭✭✭✭devnull


    GM228 wrote: »
    Word is that this extra 10% may be just the start of an expanded tendering programme.

    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.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,617 ✭✭✭✭Jamie2k9


    GM228 wrote: »
    Word is that this extra 10% may be just the start of an expanded tendering programme.

    Are they trying to get rid of BE slowly?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭SPDUB


    devnull wrote: »
    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.

    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 .


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,606 ✭✭✭schemingbohemia


    SPDUB wrote: »
    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?


  • Registered Users Posts: 28,543 ✭✭✭✭end of the road


    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.

    Protect the rights of the alcohol enjoyers of ireland. Remove all funding from alcohol action ireland now!



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭SPDUB


    Do you think the widespread no-showing of bus drivers on the routes mentioned have nothing to do with the staff?

    I believe that if that is the cause of all the problems then it shows a lack of management skills in dealing with it given that all companies can have similar issues with staff yet in most cases it has minimum if any impact on the pubic .


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 21,810 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk


    SPDUB wrote: »
    I believe that if that is the cause of all the problems then it shows a lack of management skills in dealing with it given that all companies can have similar issues with staff yet in most cases it has minimum if any impact on the pubic .

    I feel it is down to if a company has a monopoly or not (public/private doesn't matter so much). If staff/unions feel they can go out on strike for weeks on end with no repercussions or threat to them, then it can lead to a toxic and unbalanced relationship between management and staff.


  • Registered Users Posts: 28,543 ✭✭✭✭end of the road


    i believe there were repercussions to the staff at bus eireann when they went on strike. closing of some routes, redundantsies and some pay cuts i believe.
    there won't be any threat to the union heads themselves and nor should there be, they are just acting on what their members want.

    Protect the rights of the alcohol enjoyers of ireland. Remove all funding from alcohol action ireland now!



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭SPDUB


    bk wrote: »
    I feel it is down to if a company has a monopoly or not (public/private doesn't matter so much). If staff/unions feel they can go out on strike for weeks on end with no repercussions or threat to them, then it can lead to a toxic and unbalanced relationship between management and staff.

    On that basis BE should have problems all over the country yet the problem seems to be only occurring in one area

    That suggests it is little or nothing to do with the strike


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 21,810 Mod ✭✭✭✭bk


    SPDUB wrote: »
    On that basis BE should have problems all over the country yet the problem seems to be only occurring in one area

    That suggests it is little or nothing to do with the strike

    It is happening all over the country. You just don't hear so much about it because what happens outside of Dublin doesn't get reported as much.

    I'm a Corkonian and there are serious issues happening down there too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,431 ✭✭✭Curb Your Enthusiasm


    bk wrote: »
    It is happening all over the country. You just don't hear so much about it because what happens outside of Dublin doesn't get reported as much.

    I'm a Corkonian and there are serious issues happening down there too.

    Indeed. BE city services in Cork are woeful. Something needs to be done now. Not in 2021.


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  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,476 Mod ✭✭✭✭devnull


    People need to stop thinking about this announcement through the eyes of the few (the staff) really and start looking at it through the eyes of the many (the customers) who h ave been left standing by the roadside for long periods and sometimes hours.

    The simple fact is that BE are not providing an adequate service on the corridor in question and that needs to be addressed. BE have had months to do that and have failed to do so and now the NTA is taking action against an operator who is not performing to the levels it is supposed to.

    People saying that it is not the staffs fault that the management have failed and for that reason the routes should not be tendered out, are saying in a roundabout way that the jobs of the staff who won't work the rotas are more important than the public who BE is supposed to be serving, who may be close to losing their own jobs for being constantly late for work.

    You can bet your life that if Go-Ahead came in and provided a sub-standard service the same people would be the first ones to say that because of poor performance they should be stripped of the contract, but when their own side does the same, then they suddenly find a different rule-book.

    Public must come before staff, always.
    I believe that if that is the cause of all the problems then it shows a lack of management skills in dealing with it given that all companies can have similar issues with staff yet in most cases it has minimum if any impact on the pubic
    .
    Cancelling entire services for almost full days, like yesterday on the 126 service, is not minimum impact.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,966 ✭✭✭Kopparberg Strawberry and Lime


    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.

    I'll jump in again here

    The short staffing seems to be getting addressed very quickly in the eastern region, yes it was a major issue before but they seem to be getting it sorted and quickly.

    The type vehicle, yes is a major issue, the VDL brand of 2015 upwards causing a lot of trouble and a lot of being left at the side of the road.

    Thankfully a lot of these VDLs are indeed transferring to Go-ahead when they take edenderry and Kildare so if Wicklow goes then more **** box's will go, thankfully.


  • Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators Posts: 11,476 Mod ✭✭✭✭devnull


    The short staffing seems to be getting addressed very quickly in the eastern region, yes it was a major issue before but they seem to be getting it sorted and quickly.

    It's been going on for many months, the idea that we should just say, you provided an awful service for 6 months, but you're fixing it now so who cares, basically says to every operator out there, that they have six months grace to fix any problems that they have.

    That's not the kind of message we want to our operators.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,966 ✭✭✭Kopparberg Strawberry and Lime


    devnull wrote: »
    It's been going on for many months, the idea that we should just say, you provided an awful service for 6 months, but you're fixing it now so who cares, basically says to every operator out there, that they have six months grace to fix any problems that they have.

    That's not the kind of message we want to our operators.

    I'm not saying that at all, I'm also didn't give a time period but fyi it's an issue since before 2014 for understaffing.

    Anytime you see a private operator on the road on hire to the company, that should be a bus Eireann bus and driver.

    It's very simple, not enough people being retained into the job, doesn't suit everyone, money not good enough and the other usual issues such as people leave, retirements , long term sick etc.

    There's many reasons but an issue a lot of employers struggle with


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,617 ✭✭✭✭Jamie2k9


    In recent weeks BE have gotten city bus drivers to operate a certain expressway route. Nothing wrong with that except the drivers don't know the route and passengers (including myself) had to direct the driver on the route and point out where the exact stops were. Most get away with it on the outbound trip as the bus is usually full so runs non stop but get caught on the return journey.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,925 ✭✭✭GM228


    Graham wrote: »
    Word from who?

    It is something we heard on the grapevine at the WRC from someone associated with a certain Government department, coincidently a few days later the NTA announced the tendering.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,857 ✭✭✭TheQuietFella


    Indeed. BE city services in Cork are woeful. Something needs to be done now. Not in 2021.


    What are the issues in Cork? Patrick St. was closed to cars and this caused great consternation amongst some locals but I'm sure there are greater issues other than Patrick Street?


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,431 ✭✭✭Curb Your Enthusiasm


    What are the issues in Cork? Patrick St. was closed to cars and this caused great consternation amongst some locals but I'm sure there are greater issues other than Patrick Street?

    Services always late and/or just not showing up, real time info not showing up, dwell times due to leap card machines being outdated and cash fares still being accepted etc. Not to mention the poor frequency on some key routes. It's a mess.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,857 ✭✭✭TheQuietFella


    devnull wrote: »
    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.

    In Summary
    - 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.

    What reasons are behind this shortfall?
    Is it lack of buses, drivers or lack of investment by the NTA in providing the facilities to successfully operate these services?

    Didn't that service go to another operator who were all about price and not a quality service? I don't know too many who have travelled this route but I have and it's an absolute joke with significant traffic congestion!

    https://www.rte.ie/news/leinster/2018/0316/947911-bus-eireann-kildare/


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,328 ✭✭✭SPDUB


    devnull wrote: »
    People saying that it is not the staffs fault that the management have failed and for that reason the routes should not be tendered out, are saying in a roundabout way that the jobs of the staff who won't work the rotas are more important than the public who BE is supposed to be serving, who may be close to losing their own jobs for being constantly late for work.

    That's an interesting interpenetration of what I wrote .

    I've no problem with people losing their job if there are good reasons .

    I just believe that it should start at the top and not the usual ordinary worker level it usually does when management screw up
    You can bet your life that if Go-Ahead came in and provided a sub-standard service the same people would be the first ones to say that because of poor performance they should be stripped of the contract, but when their own side does the same, then they suddenly find a different rule-book.

    Interesting use of the term "own side" there .It seems I 've been labelled an uncritical BE supporter .

    I've no problem with the same rule book being applied to everyone I just want it applied equally to everyone .
    .
    Cancelling entire services for almost full days, like yesterday on the 126 service, is not minimum impact.

    And I never said it was

    What i wrote was all companies can have similar issues with staff yet in most cases it has minimum if any impact on the pubic .


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