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Public Service Obligation Contracts

Each year funding is provided for socially necessary but financially unviable public transport services in Ireland.  Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann and other public transport operators provide these services, known as Public Service Obligation (PSO) services, under contract to the National Transport Authority.

The funding of PSO services is governed by Public Transport Contracts between the Authority and these companies. The current contracts with Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann were signed in December 2014 and are for a period of 5 years, to 2019, in the case of rail services the contract is for 10 years from 2009 to 2019.

The contents of the contracts and the basis for maintaining them may be reviewed at any time by the Authority in consultation with the relevant company, however, a full review of the contract must occur at the end of the 5 or 10 year period (as appropriate).  In carrying out the review at the end of the period, the Authority must engage in a public consultation process and report on the operation of the services to which the contract relates stating the reasons for amending the contract or entering into a subsequent direct award contract.

The contracts meet the current criteria set down in EU law, setting strict standards of operational performance and customer service and contain penalties for non-performance.

The National Transport Authority monitors the contracted performance of each PSO operator on a quarterly basis.

Click here to view quarterly performance reports for Dublin Bus, Bus ÉireannIarnród Éireann, Luas and other private operators.

Direct award of bus public service contracts in 2019

In November 2018, the National Transport Authority decided to:

-Directly award a new contract for the provision of public bus services in the Dublin Area from December 2019 to Dublin Bus for a period of five years.

-Directly award a new contract for the provision of public bus services outside the Dublin Area to Bus Éireann for a period of five years, except for a selection of services, where the direct award contract shall be for a period of no longer than two years.

-Remove a selection of services equivalent to approximately 5% of the Bus Éireann direct award contract from that contract in 2021 and organise a tender competition for the provision of the selected services.

The list of bus services (valid at end of September 2018) to be included in the Dublin Bus direct award contract in December 2019 is contained here.

The list of bus services (valid at end of September 2018) to be included in the Bus Éireann direct award contract in December 2019 is contained here.

The list of bus services (valid at end of September 2018) to be removed from the Bus Éireann direct award contract in 2021 and competitively tendered is contained here.

It should be noted that the services in the Direct Award Contract can be amended by the Authority at any time and these changes are not restricted by this decision.

The Authority is obliged to publish a report where it proposes to enter into a Direct Award contract for the provision of public bus passenger services. The report on the Direct Award contract for Dublin Bus in 2019 is provided here and for Bus Éireann is provided here.

The submissions that the Authority received during the public consultation on the draft proposals for Direct Award contracts in 2019 are published here for bus services in Dublin and here for bus services outside Dublin.

Direct Award of Public Service Contract for Public Passenger Transport Services by Rail in 2019

The NTA is proposing, in accordance with Regulations 1370/2007 and 2338/2016 and applicable national legislation, to directly award a public service contract to Irish Rail for the provision of public passenger transport services by rail with a commencement date of 1 December 2019, following the expiry of the current direct award contract on 30 November 2019. It is envisaged that the direct award contract will be for ten years from 1 December 2019. The routes contained in the proposed direct award contract are set out in detail here.

Direct award of bus public service contracts in 2014

In November 2013, the National Transport Authority decided to:

-Directly award a new contract for the provision of public bus services in the Dublin Area from December 2014 to Dublin Bus for a period of five years, except for a selection of services, where the direct award contract shall be for a period of no longer than two years.

-Directly award a new contract for the provision of public bus services outside the Dublin Area to Bus Éireann for a period of five years, except for a selection of services, where the direct award contract shall be for a period of no longer than two years.

-Remove a selection of services equivalent to approximately 10% of the Dublin Bus direct award contract from that contract in 2016 and organise a tender competition for the provision of the selected services, for a period of five years up to 2021.

-Remove a selection of services equivalent to approximately 10% of the Bus Éireann direct award contract from that contract in 2016 and organise a tender competition for the provision of the selected services, for a period of five years up to 2021.

The list of bus services (valid at end of August 2013) to be included in the Dublin Bus direct award contract in December 2014 is contained here

The list of bus services (valid at end of August 2013) to be included in the Bus Éireann direct award contract in December 2014 is contained here

The list of bus services (valid at end of August 2013) to be removed from the Dublin Bus direct award contract in 2016 and competitively tendered is contained here

The list of bus services (valid at end of August 2013) to be removed from the Bus Éireann direct award contract in 2016 and competitively tendered is contained here

It should be noted that the services in the Direct Award Contract can be amended by the Authority at any time and these changes are not restricted by this decision.

Legal Basis for Public Service Obligation Contracts

In 2007 EC Regulation 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road was adopted.  EC Regulation 1370/2007 creates a framework regulating how Member States award exclusive rights and pay compensation for services deemed to be Public Service Obligations (PSO).

The purpose of the Regulation is to ensure transparency in the award of subvention for public transport services by requiring all PSO transport services to be subject to contracts.

In preparation for EC Regulation 1370/2007 Ireland progressed legislation in two stages, the first involving the enactment of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 and the second involving the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009.