Dublin Bus had nearly €8 million deducted from its budget in 2022 because of service and punctuality issues.
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said bus operators in the capital are facing issues in attracting drivers, hence the rise in the fines meted out to both Dublin Bus and Go-Ahead, which operates a number of Dublin’s public service obligation routes.
As the Irish Examiner reports, Mr Ryan told the Dáil that in 2022, €8 million and €2.4 million were deducted from the contracts of Dublin Bus and Go-Ahead Ireland, respectively.
This represented an increase on the 2021 figures of €700,000 for Dublin Bus and €300,000 for Go-Ahead Ireland and was, Mr Ryan said, “commensurate with a drop-off in the quality of service provided”.
A Dublin Bus spokesperson said the company operates 121 routes, including 10 24-hour routes and 13 Nitelinks, but struggled with “volatile traffic conditions” at the end of the covid-19 pandemic.
“Dublin Bus received a €5 million deduction from our contract by the National Transport Authority for services we were unable to operate in 2022 due to various challenges around the expansion of the network and an industry-wide recruitment challenge. This deduction is essentially a refund of sums previously provided to Dublin Bus by the National Transport Authority.
“Dublin Bus also received a net penalty deduction of €2.8 million for performance penalties, primarily in the area of punctuality.
The punctuality issues in 2022 were mainly due to the volatile traffic conditions resulting from the city’s adjustment to new travel patterns post-covid-19 and the ongoing challenges with driver recruitment.
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“However, despite these challenges, Dublin Bus successfully implemented two further phases of the BusConnects programme and increased the total number of kilometres operated from 57.7m in 2021 to 60.6m in 2022.”
Mr Ryan told Sinn Féin’s Mark Ward the deductions were designed to improve standards and were working. He said staffing had been an issue, but newly-agreed work permits would help.
“Every bus operator will tell the same story. To address this challenge and help close the gap, we engaged with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and secured agreement for 1,500 work permits for drivers who are needed across the country.”
Dublin Bus said its most recent recruitment campaign was the largest in its history and was working.