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31 July 2003 Edition

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Brennan steers buses on wrong route

If anyone has fallen for the 'privatising the transport system will be the best thing since sliced bread' spin of Dublin Minister for Transport Seamus Brennan, a look at London's privatised system may change their minds.

One of two models most often cited by Brennan (the other is Copenhagen), a survey carried out in 2001 found that London's transport system was the worst in Europe for traffic supply, reliability, comfort and safety.

Privatisation has seen the deteriorating public service requiring massive financial support to stay operational. In 2000, support for buses in London was £10 million (Sterling). By 2002 it was £193 million and by 2009 it is expected to grow to £1 billion.

Privatisation in Copenhagen has seen increased fares and decreased passenger numbers, and the Danish government pays as much for overly bureaucratic administration of public transport in the city as the Dublin government pays for its entire service.

Regular users of Dublin Bus may have doubts about the service, given their daily experience with public transport, but they are not taking into account the fact that the South's public transport receives one of the lowest levels of State support in Europe.

Dublin Bus is not perfect, nor do the workers and management of the company believe it to be. It is however, for the amount of money invested in it, one of the best and most successful public transport companies in Europe. It makes a profit, passenger numbers are up, ticket prices are low by European standards and it continues to improve.

Driven by his commitment to neo-liberalism and free markets, Brennan is now set on destroying another successful state company. In this he has the backing of most of the media establishment, who have become persuaders for the free market.

It has been proven globally that privatisation leads to job losses and a degradation of services. Consumers are being conned by Minister Brennan. If he gets his way, we will end up with an inferior, more expensive service - and possibly several hundred transport workers out of a job.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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