Protecting Local Bus Routes – Facts 1st, Action 2nd:
Wicklow residents rely on public transport. Living in an area with both urban and rural characteristics means that getting to work on time, attending a doctors appointment, or making class before the bell sounds often requires two bus connections, a rail interchange and perhaps parking a car somewhere at one end of the journey or the other.
Local bus services play a key role in helping this system stick together.
For the residents of Killincarrig, Delgany, Kilpedder, Newtown Mount Kennedy and surrounding areas the news that the 184 bus service is to be privatised will cause considerable concern.
‘Privatisation’ typically trips a switch in our emotions when we hear it mentioned. We fear that prices will rise and less profitable routes will be scrapped.
This is not always the case however: It might be what a private operator wants – it’s not necessarily what they will get.
Before we go down that road, perhaps we should first consider what we do know and secondly find out what we don’t yet know. Only then can we assess what the National Transport Authority propose for the 184 and 185 bus routes.
If these important routes are to be simply sold to the highest bidder then that prospect clearly needs to be addressed. However we don’t yet know know if that is what is planned.
Has anyone seen the proposed terms and conditions for private companies interested in operating these routes? Do we know whether they will be required to comply with maximum fares or honour minimum service frequency obligations?
Before we know what we’re dealing with we can only speculate what the risks will be. Speculation lead us into a right mess before. Perhaps a sensible, strong and informed approach on this occasion could more effectively protect, if not also enhance, this crucial community service.