I propose to take Questions Nos. 144 and 167 together.
These questions relate to the structure of the public service (PSO) bus market. In respect of the future provision of bus services the Programme for Government contains a commitment “to establish a Cabinet Sub-Committee on Infrastructure to explore the benefits to the public transport passenger of a more diverse bus service provision”. In line with this commitment the National Transport Authority (NTA) conducted a non-statutory public consultation in summer 2012. I am aware of the Competition Authority's submission to the public consultation process and the report on the process is available on the NTA's website. This report highlighted that the international experience of tendering for PSO type services has been favourable with benefits accruing in terms of (i) improved service quality, (ii) a more integrated transport system, and (iii) greater value for taxpayer’s money. The NTA has also briefed the Cabinet Sub-Committee on the process in October 2012.
The public consultation submissions will be considered and taken into account by the NTA in coming forward with proposals. Where the NTA proposes to enter into a further direct award contract or contracts for bus services it is obliged to carry out a statutory consultation under section 52 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act, 2008. Furthermore, the NTA may only enter into a direct award contract “ where it is satisfied that the continued adequacy of the public bus passenger services to which the contracts relate can only be guaranteed in the general economic interest by entering into such direct award contracts." Accordingly the matter will require further examination by the NTA before any decisions are taken.
I have been advised by the NTA that it is commencing a series of analytical tasks in relation to the PSO bus market. This analytical work will be completed in advance of August this year when the NTA anticipates statutory consultation on any new direct award contract would need to commence.