SIPTU has condemned a plan released by the National Transport Authority (NTA), today (Tuesday, 28th February), which envisages the replacement of Bus Éireann services by those of private bus operators on vital routes across the country. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Willie Noone, said: “With this plan, which effectively assists the replacement of Bus Éireann services with others run by private for profit bus operators, the NTA has revealed an agenda which is clearly supportive of the privatisation of transport services. “On four of the five routes on which the management of Bus Éireann has selected to cut or severely curtail services the NTA states that it has already issued enough licences to cover their continuation by private operators. This reveals a long-term plan to undermine public services for the benefit of private operators. “On Route 21, from Westport to Athlone, the NTA has decided that the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, will have to open his chequebook and make available public funds to assist private operators in providing a service.” He added: “The NTA, Shane Ross and Fine Gael are clearly intent on cooking up a recipe for driving down all bus workers’ pay and conditions of employment, both private and semi-state. In the long run, they will leave the travelling public exposed to private sector monopolies which will force up prices over time. This outrageous attack on the whole concept of an effective and efficient public transport system will be opposed by our members across the country.”