Tuesday, 22 June 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Transport (Mr. Brennan): In my statement to the public transport partnership forum in November, 2002 I set out my proposals for public transport reform, including the dissolution of CIE and the establishment of Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann as independent commercial State companies. It is my intention to proceed to implement these proposals in line with the commitment in An Agreed Programme for Government.
I have no plans to privatise any of the three CIE operating companies. Instead, I propose to dissolve CIE and establish Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann as independent commercial State companies with strong commercially focused boards. I am convinced that the changes needed to achieve this objective can be obtained in a way which respects the legitimate interests of public transport workers.
The overall aim of my reform proposals and investment programme is to deliver more and better quality public transport at reasonable cost to the user and in a way that demonstrates value for money for the tax payer.
Minister for Transport (Mr. Brennan): I set out my policy proposals for public transport reform in statements to the public transport partnership forum in November 2002 and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport in June 2003. The principal elements of my proposals are the establishment of an independent procurement and regulatory authority for transport, on a national basis, and the introduction of controlled competition into the bus market in the Dublin area in the form of franchising as the primary means of procuring bus services. I have no plans to privatise Dublin Bus.
I am firmly of the view that franchising is the most effective means of achieving genuine market opening in the Dublin market. International experience in cities such as London, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki is that franchising brings cost savings to public transport provision, savings which can be invested in the public transport system to ensure a better service to public transport users. A number of major studies carried out by independent consultants have supported this, including the ISOTOPE report carried out for the European Commission which found that franchising generally resulted in savings of between 15% and 20% of the cost to the State of the provision of bus services; and the NERA-Tis report commissioned by the public transport partnership forum which recommended franchising for the Dublin bus market. Franchising will allow for genuine market opening, with operators other than the existing State owned companies having a role to play in the delivery of services.
While recent public discussion on public transport reform has focused almost exclusively on organisational issues and public monopoly provider concerns, the focus of my reforms is primarily on delivering a better service to the customer and greater value for money to the taxpayer. It remains my intention to proceed with legislation on public transport reform in 2004.
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