Public transport workers are demanding that the Government urgently draws up a long-term strategic plan for the development of the sector. The call comes amid growing concerns about the future of public transport in Ireland. With falling state subvention provoking crises in Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann and Irish Rail, workers have insisted that only such a blueprint on how services will be funded into the future can ensure that the public is provided with the transport service they need. The situation has already resulted in a major industrial dispute in Dublin Bus which could spread to the other public transport companies. SIPTU Transport, Energy, Aviation and Construction Division Organiser, Owen Reidy, said: “All three pubic transport companies have seen the level of their state subvention reduced by approximately one third over recent years. To make matters even worse, we have seen the National Transport Authority last year unilaterally take €2 million from Dublin Bus because it deemed its profits excessive.“At the heart of the issues affecting our public transport companies is their inability to plan their budgets, and in particular, their expenditure more than 12 months ahead. The Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, needs to commit to agreeing and implementing a multi-annual plan for the entire public transport system as a matter of extreme urgency.”The running down of public funding of transport services has resulted in Bus Eireann management announcing this month that it is seeking to break the company up by separating from it the Expressway inter-regional service. Meanwhile, a dispute at Irish Rail concerning pay, a reduction in the working week and past productivity issues has been referred to the Labour Court.The growing crisis in the public transport sector will be a discussed by the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport on Wednesday, 5th October. The meeting will be addressed by SIPTU representatives who will outline the union’s proposals for a sustainable public transport system which provides a world class service to the public and decent jobs for employees.As Liberty went to print union and Dublin Bus representatives completed exploratory discussions at the Workplace Relations Commission concerning a pay dispute at the company which has resulted in several work stoppages since the 8th September. A 48 hour stoppage due to commence today (Tuesday 27th September) was deferred pending further talks.The dispute stems from a pay claim by Dublin Bus workers. Following eight years without a raise they are seeking a 15% increase over three years and compensation for a 6% increase that was deferred in 2008. A Labour Court recommendation of an 8.25% increase over three years was overwhelmingly rejected by workers earlier this year. Commenting on the Dublin Bus dispute, SIPTU Organiser, John Murphy, said: “The workers have been humbled by the support shown to them by members of the public on picket lines at bus depots across the city. It is clear that a majority of those who use public transport support our members in their demand for fair pay and sufficient State funding for a bus service which is vital to communities across the city. We hope that the current negotiations can prevent the need for further stoppages at Dublin Bus.”