Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
188. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that private bus operators who receive contracts from Dublin Bus or Bus Éireann to operate routes on behalf of these companies, are only employed on a week to week basis and do not receive long-term contracts that would permit them to secure loans or otherwise maintain and develop their business; if he will consider the changes in policy which would be necessary to offer these important supplementary sources of public transport secure contracts to permit development of service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29428/03]
189. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if he plans in the long term to introduce public support towards the cost of fleet maintenance by private operators of public transport services; and if EU rules regarding state aid which require the existing policy of confining subsidies to the publicly owned fleet can change. [29430/03]
Minister for Transport (Mr. Brennan): I set out my policy objectives for public transport reform in my November 2002 statement to the Public Transport Partnership Forum and to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport in June 2003. These detailed proposals are currently the subject of discussions between my Department, the CIE trade unions and the managements of Bus Átha Cliath and Bus Éireann. Once these discussions are completed I will finalise my proposals which will include the issue of public support for private operators. It is my intention to proceed with the necessary legislation in 2004.
With regard to the issue of EU rules for state aid in public transport, the Court of Justice in the recent Altmark ruling clarified the rules regarding state aid and public subsidies paid for local public transport services. I understand that the ruling is being examined by the European Commission which intends to issue a formal communication on it in the near future.
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