Bus Éireann celebrates being back #IntheDrivingSeat
Bus Éireann celebrates being back #IntheDrivingSeat
Ireland’s largest public transport operator outside of Dublin achieves financial recovery and announces exciting plans for the future
- 102 new fleet to introduced countrywide in 2019 ‐ a €35million investment supported by the NTA
- Passenger numbers at their highest in over 10 years ‐ Journeys on regional city services rose by 13.2 per cent in 2018
- Company unveils new management team; driver recruitment ongoing nationwide
Bus Éireann will today reveal that it has achieved a financial recovery, following what has been the most challenging period in the company’s 33‐year history. At an event in Dublin where it will launch its 2018 Annual Report, it will announce its ambitious plans for the future, celebrate increasing passenger numbers, and unveil new fleet which will be introduced countrywide in 2019.
Bus Éireann provides more than 200 State supported, or Public Service Obligation (PSO) services nationwide, a commercially driven intercity service Expressway, and it operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.
Return to financial stability
In 2018, Bus Éireann achieved an operating profit of €1.6 million (before one off costs or exceptional items) compared with a loss of €6.8m in 2017. It also reduced its deficit from €23.7million to €6.7million, in the last 12 months.
This financial recovery has been made possible by the successful implementation of over 60 business transformation measures, introduced in the last two years, together with strong gains in passenger growth, helped by a buoyant economy. This is considered to be one of the most significant public sector business transformation processes in Ireland.
With the ongoing support of its staff and customers, the company has endured and survived what has been the most turbulent period in its 33‐year history and is now back in the driving seat. The company provides more than 2,700 jobs countrywide and generated €58.1 million for the Exchequer in 2018, compared with €54.7 million in 2017.
Increasing passenger numbers
Bus Éireann’s passenger growth numbers are now at their highest since 2008. In the last year, overall passenger numbers have increased by 6.3% ‐ to 83.6 million (compared with 78.6 million in 2017), and that figure rises to 13.2% in the regional cities, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford.
Investment in new fleet
With the support of the National Transport Authority (NTA), 102 new buses will be introduced countrywide in 2019. Double Deckers will be introduced to Cork City, Galway and Limerick; Low Floor Accessible Regional Buses will be introduced in the West, in Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and parts of Donegal; and Sligo, Athlone, Dundalk, Drogheda, Navan and Balbriggan will all receive accessible new buses for the town services.
The new fleet will provide on board Wi‐Fi and individual USB charging points at each seat for the convenience of passengers.
This investment of close to €35million will support the company in its aim to achieve a fully accessible and environmentally sustainable fleet. Currently, 86% of its buses are accessible, and the figure rises to 100% in regional cities and towns. Now 43% of Bus Eireann fleet have cleaner Euro VI engine emissions standards and this will be substantially increased in line with investment in 2019, and in the coming years.
New senior management team with customer centric focus
As part of the company’s transformation process, a new senior management team, with a number of new positions – including a Chief Customer Officer, Chief People Officer and Chief Information Officer - were introduced.
Five of the senior management team have joined the company in the last 18 months, bringing very significant private sector and international experience, including Eleanor Farrell, Chief Commercial Officer, who joined from Google, where she held the position of Global Head of Operations and Strategy, Customer Onboarding, Sinéad Kilkelly, Chief People Officer, who joined from Etihad where she was Vice President People Services, and Allen Parker, Chief Customer Officer, who was Managing Director of Aircoach. 43% of the managers in the company are now female. Stephen Kent, who previously served as the company’s Chief Commercial Officer, was also appointed CEO in November 2018.
A recent driver recruitment campaign received 2,000 applications and resulted in 250 new drivers joining Bus Éireann. Driver recruitment is also on‐going in many locations around the country. There were also 22 successful candidates in the company’s training programme for apprentices last year, the single biggest intake of apprentices in the company’s history, which included the first female apprentice in Heavy Vehicle mechanics.
Ambitious plans for the future
Amongst the other customer service enhancements the company plans to introduce to sustain growth are increased frequency on many city and regional routes, continued investment in new fleet and new customer-friendly ticketing technology. Working with the NTA, there are plans later this year to introduce the latest ticketing technology to bus services, which will allow customers to pay using mobile phones and contact bank cards.
It will also work with NTA on the Bus Connects projects, in Galway and Cork initially, to ensure that the bus systems in the regional cities are as effective and efficient as they can be.
Aidan Murphy has been Chair of the Bus Éireann Board since 2014. “We have had a difficult couple of years but since 2017 we introduced one of the most ambitious business transformation programmes ever implemented by a State company. Since accepting the Labour Court recommendation in June 2017, and with the support of our staff, we have rebuilt our finances and refocused our efforts and resources on delivering excellent standards for our customers who rely on the thousands of services we provide every day throughout the country,” he said.
Stephen Kent, Chief Executive Officer of Bus Éireann said; “With so much achieved over the past year, I look forward to working with all of the dedicated staff in Bus Éireann, to deliver outstanding service quality whilst ensuring that we build on the financial recovery and the efficiencies gained over the past two years to deliver the best value to the State, to win new customers and to grow and enhance the services which we deliver for over 80 million customers that we serve today. We have ambitious plans for the future to ensure that we support the essential growth of our revenue base with new initiatives, innovation and customer focused service improvements.”
Anne Graham, Chief Executive Officer, National Transport Authority said; “We are committing €35 million this year to investing in 102 new buses for Bus Éireann’s services around the country. This essential investment will enable the company to continue to increase its passenger numbers and to provide a viable alternative to car usage for people all over Ireland, and it will help us to deliver on our commitment to making public transport fully accessible and in line with the national policy to introduce low carbon emission public transport vehicles. We also plan to start to introduce the latest ticketing technology to bus services later this year, which will allow customers to pay using mobile phones and contact bank cards.”
Monday, 20th May, 2019