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Under the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009 (PTR Act 2009), the National Transport Authority is responsible for the licensing of public bus passenger services. Licensed public bus passenger services are often called ‘commercial bus services’, as they are operated without any public subsidy from the NTA. They are also called ‘route licences’ as different routes are individually licensed by the NTA.

The PTR Act 2009 defines public bus passenger services as where:

  • Each journey is used by members of the public,
  • A charge or charges are paid in respect of each passenger, and
  • Save where the NTA otherwise determines:
    • The service is provided on a regular and scheduled basis, and
    • Carriage is provided for passengers between specified terminal points or a specified route, or otherwise in accordance with a published timetable.

Bus services which do not require a licence include:

  • Those provided solely for the transport of children to or from school, excluding third level education
  • Those that are subject to a public services contract with the NTA, entered into under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008
  • International services

In practice, this means that regular scheduled services (including student services), services to go to a specific event or venue (e.g. concerts) and services that are targeted to a specific group of passengers (e.g. tourists, social event attendees) all require a licence.

Anyone who is tax cleared may apply for a licence. Applicants who do not hold a Road Transport Operators Licence may apply once they can prove that they have the capacity to provide the service. Once the complete application is received and validated by the NTA, it is considered in line with the requirements of the PTR Act 2009 prior to making its decision.


These requirements include taking account of:

  1. The demand or potential demand that exists for the public bus passenger services, to which the application refers, by considering the needs of consumers.
  2. Any existing public bus passenger services on or in the vicinity of the route to be served by the proposed public bus passenger services.
  3. The impact the proposed service would have on public passenger transport services that are subject to a public transport services contract on or in the vicinity of the proposed route

The NTA has three decision options:

  1. To grant the proposed services in full; or
  2. To part-grant the proposed services, this can include refusing certain parts of the application, offering different service times, offering different stop locations; or
  3. To refuse the application in full.

Once the NTA’s decision is notified to the applicant they have three options:

  1. Accept the decision and submit all of the required documentation and/or fees to enable the licence to be issued, or
  2. Appeal the decision within 21 days of the decision notification. The application will then be re-considered by an appeals officer assigned by the Chief Executive Officer.
  3. Cancel the application.

Documentation required once an offer has been accepted may include:

  • Approval from the relevant Road Authority or landowner (in the case of private property) for all of the proposed bus stops.
  • Details of any subcontracting arrangements proposed.
  • Proof of valid insurance for the provision of the licensed service.
  • Proof of Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Test (CVRT), certificate(s) for all vehicles.
  • Proof of Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence(s) for all vehicles.