The Chairperson of Clare Bus has expressed grave fears for its future, after the National Transport Authority confirmed the contract to operate its routes is being put out to tender.
It’s the latest threat to the service, and follows a decision earlier this year to move the coordination of the service to Limerick.
The move could call the future of 25 staff into question.
Concerns over Clare Bus first emerged in April this year, after the National Transport Authority announced it’s deicison to transfer responsibility for the coordination of the Feakle-based service to an organisation in Limerick.
Since then, Clare Bus has continued to operate the buses themselves, but that’s now being called into question.
While Clare Bus had hoped that their contract would be renewed, the NTA is now putting this out to competitive tender.
It says the decision was taken to secure the delivery of relevant bus services in Clare.
The tender process will be done on a route by route basis and will be open to all suitably qualified operators, including Clare Accessible Transport.
Chairperson Ger Hoey says the situation has resulted in staff and customers becoming seriously concerned for the future of the service and he’s hit out at the NTA for a lack of communication in recent months.
Ger Hoey has also criticised the Government for failing to take an active role in protecting the existing service.
Independent Sixmilebridge, PJ Ryan, who was involved in the original set up of Clare Bus says the onus is on the NTA to provide the best possible service, while keeping value for money at the forefront of deicsion making.
But he says that doesn’t always go in favour of the community, and he fears this will be the service will be scaled back.
The NTA’s reassuring that there will be no disruption to the operation of existing services and that it will continue to fund Clare Accessible Transport’s services pending the outcome of the tendering process.
That’s expected to be completed by the end of the year.