5 April 2019

No legislative powers to refuse application to withdraw services

The National Transport Authority is putting in place measures that will address gaps in service arising from the decision by Kenneally’s Bus Service Ltd. T/A JJ Kavanagh & Sons to withdraw service from a number of intermediate locations along bus route 735 from April 16th.

It should be noted that the Authority has no legislative powers to refuse an application from a commercial bus operator to reduce or withdraw services.

Route 735 is a commercial service provided by JJ Kavanagh & Sons between Dublin Airport, Dublin City and Limerick and is licensed by the Authority. Licences set out the nature of the service, and conditions under which a licensed public bus passenger service must operate such as the point of origin and destination, as well as a detailed timetable and stopping places. 

JJ Kavanagh & Sons has applied to the Authority to amend its licence for Route 735. The amendment seeks the withdrawal of all services from a number of intermediate locations including Mountrath, Borris-in-Ossory, Moneygall, Toomevara and Birdhill and that application has been granted.

In circumstances such as this, where commercial operators withdraw or curtail services, the Authority examines whether, in the absence of any commercial services, a public service obligation (PSO) exists to provide socially necessary but commercially unviable public transport services.

Such examination includes an assessment of the demand for public transport services and options to either re-configure existing PSO services or to competitively tender for the provision of services.

The Authority has completed an examination of the affected locations and has determined that there is in fact a requirement to continue to provide services to meet the social need.

To that end, the Authority is already engaging with Bus Éireann, LocalLink Tipperary, and LocalLink Laois with a view to providing solutions for bus customers at local level, both in the short term and the long term.

Timetables of services are currently being drawn up with the aim not only meeting the social need but also improving levels of service to a wider area.

Funding is not anticipated to be an issue in this instance.