Two Tier Bus System



A privatised route will have to generate income and to do so can only increase fares and / or lower wages. We have seen this for refuse collection since 2001. Taking the city as a whole, the private tendering of these ‘orbital’ routes is a testing ground for more extensive privatisation on other, more lucrative, routes in the years to come.

A private operator is not going to want to compete on one route but on many across the entire network. If a route is operated by a profit-driven company, the license to service the route will need to stipulate the regularity of the service. A route that runs at peak times only and does not operate outside of this peak defies categorisation as a social good.

Ours fears for privatisation is that there will be a focus on running a bus only on that exact slot in the schedule that will be busy. There is little assessment of the route within the system as a whole. Having operated a route for perhaps two years, private operators will be back at the minister’s office door arguing for access to these more lucrative routes.

Dr Eoin O’Mahony, Dublin City University.

Privatizing public transport from the periphery to the centre?

Map via (out of work mapper) Omar Sarhan – explore the privatised routes here

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20 thoughts on “Two Tier Bus System

  1. Liam

    Has he read the tender? AFAIK The private operator will get a fixed fee for running the route and the NTA will stipulate the frequency of the timetable.

  2. Ray

    The whole thing is crazy

    Any operator must deliver a certain quality of service – frequency of buses, capacity, standards for maintenance and cleanliness
    Any operator must have the same fare structure, and honour Leap cards, annual bus passes, pensioner bus passes etc
    Any operator is going to deal with the same traffic restrictions/passes as on all other routes
    No-one is going to market a couple of bus routes specifically – they are not going to spend money convincing people to take the number 17 bus, as opposed to buses in general

    So where is the gain for privatisation?
    Greater efficiency? It is much less efficient to have a second fleet of buses, maintenance, payrolls etc to look after.
    Is the idea that a privatised operator can cut wages, benefits and training in a way that Dublin Bus can’t?

    Is that what people are getting excited about? If not, where is the benefit?

  3. Tibor

    It should be strongly noted that the highlighted route going up Dorset Street, marked “for privatisation”, isn’t.

    The source material (the maps, not the IT article) references the 33 as being tendered, when it’s only the 33a/b up for tender.
    So that big scary line going up Dorset Street and around the city centre shouldn’t be there at all.
    Kinda changes the entire orientation of the map & undermines the entire point of the blog entry if it’s not focused on the city centre though.
    The non-central routes are essntial, but they are also more infrequent, Dublin Bus would do well to lose these routes that weren’t cleaned up in the whole ‘network direct’ farce they engaged in a while ago. Honestly, these routes would probably have been cut entirely during that whole process if not for the whole “serving the community” remit of Dublin Bus.
    This tender process lets them rid themselves of these routes.
    So, yeah, less “big privatisation” scare mongering, and a better focus on the recent history of Dublin Bus would be a better thing for this poster to focus on.

    1. Omar Sarhan

      I think that we are both looking at the privatisation situation differently.
      I think you put a stronger emphasis on what is best for DB on a corporate level while I would place a greater emphasis on making transport more accessible and of real use for all.

      1. Tibor

        Yes and no.
        Both sides have reasonable points.
        As I said before, the routes that are up for tender, it’s a miracle they exist at all. I honestly think they were only retained because DB knew it would have to tender 10% of it’s routes, so keeping some routes that couldn’t be stream-lined in order to piss into their own tender-pool was an obvious solution. As bad as getting rid of the routes would be for the community, handing them off but keeping some sort of service seems like a reasonable alternative.

        BUUUUUUUTTTTTT I mostly want to point out how disingenuous that map/ article is with regards to the privatisation situation.
        The 33 is not up for tender. The 33a & the 33b are, nothing going into the city centre is planned.

  4. Ray

    The 17 is a very busy route, at particular times of the day. It serves UCD.

    If you were a bus operator with complete control over your service, you could decide, “Okay, 46A is always busy and is on bus corridors – we’ll put more buses on there, lower prices, try to increase passenger numbers. *That* route, on the other hand is empty most of the day, we’ll scrap it. *That* route is always trouble after dark, so from now on it runs from 7.30 to 9.30 and 16.30 to 19.00 only. *This* route is loss-making as it stands, so we’ll increase fares by 50% on it and see how it goes”

    Dublin Bus can’t do any of those things. It has to provide a public service, which means covering unprofitable routes, offering free transport, and having a fixed fare structure. So many of the people arguing in favour of privatising routes are really in favour of dropping some or all of those (or cutting employee wages), but hide it all behind the word “efficiency”

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