Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady met this week with representatives of the National Transport Authority (NTA), Anne Graham Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NTA, and Tim Gaston, Director of Public Transport Services, to raise the concerns which he had voiced in the Dáil last week to Government Minister Hildegarde Naughton, in relation to the ongoing problems in Wicklow with the Go-Ahead Bus Service.
The privatisation of three bus routes in County Wicklow, the Nos. 45A, 184 and 185, which were awarded to ‘Go-Ahead Ireland’, has resulted in a total deterioration of the service which was previously successfully run by Dublin Bus.
In fact, the service has deteriorated to the point that some passengers have found themselves abandoned by the roadside as they waited for ‘Go-Ahead’ buses which failed to run. In quite a few instances this meant that passengers were forced to miss important medical appointments.
“Having previously raised this matter with the Minister in the Dáil last week, I met this week with representatives from the NTA in relation to the ongoing failure of ‘Go-Ahead’ Ireland to fulfil their contractual obligations to provide a fit for purpose bus service of routes 45A, 184, and 185 in Wicklow.
It is my view that Go-Ahead Ireland have been allowed to hide behind false narratives, where they have been permitted to blame their failures on Covid. When the reality is that there have been problems with these routes well before Covid. And these problems can all be traced back to adequate pay and conditions, which have led to a shortage of drivers.
When I raised these issues with the NTA, to be fair to the NTA they acknowledged the issue. Go-Ahead have been issued with fines by the NTA on an ongoing basis as a result of their failure to complete their contractual obligations. In quarter one last year alone, they were fined €50,000.
In response to the ongoing failures of Go-Ahead, the NTA intend to change the bus timetable and reduce the number of scheduled buses every day on the routes.
We have a situation at this moment that Go-Ahead have a five-year contract to provide this bus service to Wicklow. They are now three and a half years into this contract. Which gives the NTA leave to conduct an initial review into the service offered by Go-Ahead. Following which a decision can be taken to either extend the contract or have it resent out for tender.
I am asking members of the public who have been affected by the failures of Go-Ahead to feed in their experience to the NTA. Let them know the reality of what it has been like to have to deal with the cancelled buses, the missed medical appointments, the long and dangerous walks home after being abandoned by the side of the road. The NTA need to hear it all.
I have recently launched a petition calling on the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to sort out the mess created by Go-Ahead’s mismanagement of the three bus routes in Wicklow. The Petition can be reached through the following link https://chng.it/GRC8w86MKz.
The petition has already received over 700 signatories, and I have been overwhelmed at the levels of support I have received for this initiative. The accompanying feedback from ordinary people who have been let down by Go-Ahead sets out very clearly the failure of the company to deliver a fit for purpose service.
Eamonn Ryan needs to step in, he needs to revoke Go-Ahead’s licence, and sort out this mess for once and for all.”