By Mike McCourt
In recent weeks, Bus Éireann and Translink have announced route cuts and redundancies respectively, hitting major blows to the working class on both sides of the border.
In September, Bus Éireann announced cuts linking Cork, Galway, Limerick and Belfast with Dublin. This makes travelling to Dublin extremely difficult, particularly for people from rural areas.
No Covid cuts
Two weeks earlier, Translink announced its first mandatory redundancies in decades, with up to 100 jobs at risk. Unite the Union representative Davy Thompson commented on how the cuts reflected “…the particular challenges posed by the COVID pandemic against the backdrop of the long-term underfunding of public transport”.
Bus Éirream has claimed the cuts are to help prevent Covid-19 spread. However, what is needed is investment in the necessary health and safety protocols, including additional fleet to prevent overcrowding. A recent report showed 90% of the Bus Éireann fleet have not met protocol standards, putting workers and passengers at risk.
Public transport essential
While the two services are partially controlled by their respective states, they both have private elements. This deliberate undermining of the public transport system after continuous underfunding is undoubtedly an attempt by both capitalist governments to move further towards privatisation.
In the shadow of a looming climate catastrophe and the current economic crisis, public transport should not be cut, but expanded and made free to aid workers economically and reduce carbon emissions. Furthermore, the Socialist Party calls for complete nationalisation and democratic control of public transport to guarantee services, jobs and to ensure an efficient service, accessible to all. This would be easily achieved by taking wealth from the billionaires who have amassed even greater fortunes over the course of the crisis, as well as major polluters.