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31 August 2006 Edition

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Public transport: Strike action possible

Transport Minister Martin Cullen

Cullen must stand up to PDs - Crowe

Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Seán Crowe TD, speaking in support of SIPTU and NBRU public transport workers on Wednesday ahead of possible strike action, has called on Transport Minister Martin Cullen to 'stand up to the PDs'. Pointing out that 'public transport users must wait until the latest neo-liberal whimsy of the Progressive Democrats is indulged', he went on to outline the failure of public transport privatisation and deregulation across Europe, before committing Sinn Féin to supporting the workers in their efforts to improve the service offered to consumers.

The Dublin South-West TD said: "As Sinn Féin has repeatedly pointed out over a number of months bus users have been held hostage by the Progressive Democrats and their refusal to support investment in the provision of badly needed new busses, until their doomed proposals to part privatise bus routes is implemented. In effect, public transport users must wait until the latest neo-liberal whimsy of the PDs is indulged. We fully appreciate the understandable frustration of public transport workers and users.

"No-one, least of all public transport workers, wants to see strike action tomorrow, but the Government has repeatedly broken its commitments and the people of Dublin continue to be deprived of the quality bus service that they deserve. I would call on Minister Cullen to stand up to the PDs, and to refuse to let them dictate policies that will undermine public transport services.

"The experience of public transport companies in Britain and throughout Europe, demonstrates time and time again that the proposals from the PDs are doomed to failure. The introduction of franchising in Britain was a disaster. According to the Bulletin of Public Transport Statistics, passenger numbers went into freefall. The Report on British Bus Deregulation carried out by the International Transport Federation found a 23% increase in fares across Britain, with increases of 35-53% in urban areas.

"Since deregulation was introduced to Copenhagen, a city of similar population to Dublin, in the early 90s, costs have risen, passengers have fallen, service reliability has declined and three transnational corporations dominate the market between them. The Greater Copenhagen Authority is seriously considering going back into business as a public transport operator.

"The subsidy given to Dublin Bus of 26% of operational costs, is one of the lowest in Europe. People who have travelled abroad and marvelled at the excellent public transport system in cities in Europe should consider that the subsidy for Dublin Bus is less than half the subsidy in cities like Brussels, Stockholm, Helsinki or Vienna.

"Minister Cullen is meeting with SIPTU and the NBRU today. He has the opportunity to deliver on the Government's commitments to public transport workers and users. If not, if he fails again, Sinn Féin will fully support the regrettable, but clearly absolutely necessary, strike action being proposed by the unions."

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