The Coach Tourism & Transport Council of Ireland (CTTC) has called on the Government to intervene to ensure that every school transport contract contains a provision that will facilitate an appeals process, in order to protect the basic legal rights of commercial bus operators.
The issue is a live one among the membership of the organisation, where a number of reputable companies have been subject to unilateral decisions by Bus Éireann, which has resulted in the cancellation of school transportation contracts. In all cases, due process was not afforded to the impacted parties, as there was no recourse available to operators to have the decisions by Bus Éireann independently determined.
The organisation maintains that while operators accept certain decisions must be made by Bus Eireann, this does not absolve the company of the need to have an independent appeals mechanism in place. This move is essential, in order to ensure that Ireland meets the most basic of legal rights. The CTTC believes that the Government will need to intervene to ensure Bus Eireann is compelled to include a standard provision in all school transportation contracts.
The CTTC is the largest representative body for Ireland’s school transport operators. Over 90% of school transport routes are provided by commercial bus operators in Ireland. In total, there are 1,721 coach operators in Ireland, carrying over 75 million passengers per year, supporting 11,457 jobs and contributing €400 million to the economy. The CTTC members are also leading providers of scheduled services, international tours and private hire.
Commenting on the issue John Halpenny, Chairperson of the CTTC, said “The right to redress is important to our industry, especially given the serious impact of a unilateral decision on a bus operator’s livelihood, with a stroke of a pen. Justice demands that an independent body, should consider all the facts, in an impartial way, with a fresh pair of eyes, before a final determination is arrived at. This is an appropriate action and amounts to due process.”
“Government needs to right this wrong. By introducing this basic right, the coalition will demonstrate to the sector that it will protect its fundamental right to challenge a decision, which cannot be done presently. Ultimately, solutions are required, and this must be a priority action.”