asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if, in view of the hardship which will be caused by the proposed abolition of school children's fares by C.I.E., he will request the company to reconsider the matter.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Children's Bus Fares.
The cost of implementing the recent wage increases recommended by the Labour Court and the Joint Industrial Council is estimated by C.I.E. at £583,000 per annum. Under the Transport Act, 1950, C.I.E. are empowered to fix such charges as they think necessary for the services provided by them and they are charged with the statutory duty to try to balance their budget. Having regard to their financial position, there is no course open to C.I.E. other than to increase their charges to recover the cost of the increased wages, although I understand that the increase in fares which they are now introducing will not be adequate for this purpose. The details of the increased charges are the sole concern of the board, to whom any representations which the Deputy may wish to make in the matter should be addressed.
Can the Minister say how much of the proposed increase is represented by the abolition of school children's fares?
I would not know.
Will the Minister put this consideration to C.I.E.? Notwithstanding that they have statutory obligation to balance their budget, in view of the fact that they are making a substantial profit on the Dublin bus services and on the provincial bus services, it is unfair to load these services up with increased charges which will impact heavily on the parents of school-going children. These are already remunerative services for C.I.E. and C.I.E. ought, therefore, to look for their money in some other direction.
The amount of additional revenue which C.I.E. anticipate to get from the increased charges in Dublin will be less than the increase in wages they will be paying in Dublin. It is obvious that it would be a poor joke upon the employees of C.I.E. for the board to agree to pay them increased wages without making some effort to get the money to pay the increase.
I am not questioning the right of C.I.E. to get the money. What I am questioning is why C.I.E. should endeavour to get the money by imposing this burden on families with school-going children who travel over a transport system—namely, the Dublin buses—from which C.I.E. is already making a very substantial profit.
As I explained, C.I.E. are by statute in sole charge of their rating system. I have no knowledge, other than the statements they publish in the papers, of the reasons why they chose the particular increases they are now bringing into operation.
I take it that the Minister is aware that the company are making a substantial profit on the Dublin bus services. It is a well-known fact. Is it not unfair that they should impose this additional burden on the parents of school-going children in Dublin, in view of that fact? While C.I.E. have a statutory obligation to balance their budget, they have no statutory immunity from doing some fresh and original thinking.
If C.I.E. are to get the money to enable them to pay the increase in wages, they have to impose the charges where the money can be secured.
They should get it elsewhere.