The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, today announced that temporary funding supports, in accordance with EU and national legislation, will be introduced for the licensed bus sector.
This will assist essential operators who are still under severe financial distress due to the fall in passenger numbers and associated drop in fare revenue as a result of COVID-19. Licensed bus operators are essential in areas that are not covered by existing public service obligation bus or rail services.
The Minister said:
“There is a very real threat to the continued survival of licensed bus operators and the essential transport services they operate due to the impact of COVID-19 on the sector. In the absence of direct intervention, the extreme financial hardship facing operators could result in the loss of their services to the travelling public across the country. If this was to occur, many passengers would be left with no alternative public transport option available. Obviously this cannot be allowed to happen.”
The Minister was speaking after Government approved the emergency provision which is aimed at ensuring the continued operation of essential licensed bus services for a period of up to six months. The support package will be restricted to operators where a clear public interest justification supports such intervention and will be targeted at compensating the gap between specified costs and revenues generated on the services (the details of which will be established in contracts between the National Transport Authority and the relevant operators).
The Minister said:
"Licensed operators provide essential transport services for people who need to get to work and are vital to ensure economic recovery. We simply cannot allow these key public transport services to fail. The temporary emergency funding supports for licensed bus operators, to underpin public transport during these unprecedented times for the sector, will help to safeguard public transport capacity in Phases 3 and 4 of the Roadmap."