News

NTA announces preferred bidder for bus services on Kildare commuter corridor

16.3.18

National Transport Authority has today announced GoAhead as the preferred bidder for the contract relating to the operation of six bus routes in the Dublin Commuter Area along the Kildare corridor.

This followed a competitive process involving bids from Irish and international companies. NTA will be formally sending the company a detailed Letter of Intent in the coming weeks.

The routes to be operated under this contract are: 120, 120C, 123, 124, 126, 130. These routes link Dublin city centre to towns such as Athy, Kilcullen, Kildare, Maynooth, Naas, Newbridge and Rathangan in County Kildare; Edenderry and Tullamore in County Offaly;  Portlaoise, County Laois; and Enfield, County Meath

Services by GoAhead will start to come into operation at the end of this year or early next year.

The change to the new operator will be seamless from the point of view of the passenger, although with an additional 11% vehicle kilometres envisaged under the contract, the level of service across the routes is set to improve appreciably.

The routes will operate under the ‘Transport for Ireland’ branding and livery. Schedules and timetables will be determined by the NTA, and while there will be some changes to timetables, the effect of these changes will be to optimise the services to the benefit of customers.

There will be no changes to fares. Leap Card and Free Travel Public Services Card will continue to be accepted on all these services. The routes will continue to be included in NTA’s Real Time Passenger Information and Journey Planner platforms.

A total of 23 new vehicles will be purchased by NTA for deployment on these routes. This includes 13 double-deck-coaches and 12 single-deck regional buses.

All the newly-purchased vehicles buses will have a wheelchair space and a buggy space, plus a motorised ramp at the entrance door to allow wheelchairs to board easily. USB chargers will be installed at every seat and WIFI will be available throughout. The buses will also be equipped with audio “next stop” announcements and a visual display of the name of the next stop.

The vehicles are powered by the latest Euro VI diesel engine, which are much cleaner in use than older diesel engines.

In addition, 10 coaches that are already in service in the area will remain on these routes.

Anne Graham Chief Executive Officer of the National Transport Authority said: “Ultimately this is about improving public transport for the commuters in Kildare.

“We believe that bringing in a new operator into the market will bring a fresh dimension to the sector.

“It has also been the experience internationally that introducing some level of competitive tendering into PSO operations like this, usually results in a much better deal for passengers and for the public in general.

“So bus customers along the Kildare corridor will be getting more services, all with a higher level of customer experience. During the course of the contract, as more people take to the bus, it would be our intention to further increase frequency and improve the offering across the board.”

  1. What’s happening today?
  • NTA is announcing that Go-Ahead is the preferred bidder for the contract relating to the Operation of 6 Routes in the Dublin Commuter Area along the Kildare corridor.
  • NTA has written to Go-Ahead today to that effect, and there is now a standard contractual stand-still period of two weeks in place.
  • NTA will be formally sending the company a detailed Letter of Intent in the coming weeks.
  • Go-Ahead is expected to begin operating these routes in November 2018.
  1. What routes are included in this tender?
  • The routes to be operated under this contract are: 120, 120C, 123, 124, 126, 130.
  • These routes link Dublin city centre to towns such as:
  • Athy, Kilcullen, Kildare, Maynooth, Naas, Newbridge and Rathangan in County Kildare
  • Edenderry and Tullamore in County Offaly
  • Portlaoise, County Laois
  • Enfield, County Meath
  1. Why is this good for passengers?
  • The reason we are doing this is ultimately to improve bus services for people in the Kildare area.
  • There will be an overall increase in service levels.
  • There will be 33 vehicles assigned to serving these routes.
  • This includes 23 2018 vehicles and 10 coaches that are already in service in the area
  1. Most of the vehicles will be brand new?
  • A total of 23 new vehicles will be purchased by NTA for deployment on these routes. This includes 13 double-deck-coaches and 12 single-deck regional buses.
  • All the buses will have a wheelchair space plus a motorised ramp at the entrance door to allow wheelchairs to board easily.
  • The buses will also be equipped with audio “next stop” announcements and a visual display of the name of the next stop.
  • WIFI will be available throughout the buses.
  • The buses will have a newly designed interior, including new seating designs, and a new modern paint livery on the exterior of the vehicle.
  • The new buses are powered by the latest Euro VI diesel engine, which are much cleaner in use than older diesel engines.
  • The vehicles are fitted with various technologies that capture and use energy normally lost through braking, making them very fuel efficient.
  1. What will the impact on Bus Éireann be?
  • NTA does not expect any significant impact on Bus Éireann or its workers given the commitment in Labour Relations Commission agreement in 2015.
  • Market is growing and there will be sufficient additional services on the remaining routes for existing Bus Éireann staff.
  • There will be no compulsory transfer or redundancy for Bus Éireann drivers
  1. Will fares change as a result?
  • The fares will continue to be determined by NTA.
  • The fare structure will be precisely the same as on services currently provided
  1. What is the time line?
  • We have written to Go-Ahead today to indicate to them that they are the preferred bidder and we will be formally sending them a detailed Letter of Intent in the coming weeks.
  • Go-Ahead is expected to begin operating the services in November 2018
  1. Will they take Leap Card / feature in the National Journey Planner / have the RTPI service?
  • Yes, yes and yes.
  1. Can I use season tickets such as tax-saver?
  • Season tickets currently valid on these bus routes will remain valid.
  1. Will the Department of Social Protection’s Free Travel Scheme apply to these routes? Can pensioners travel for free?
  • There will be absolutely no change in that regard.
  1. What difference will passengers see on the ground?
  • One of the objectives here is to bring about improvements and enhancements in how bus services are provided.
  • The NTA expects improved punctuality and reliability in particular as well as improvements in the customer experience over time.
  • Quality of service is measurable and therefore the NTA has set out in the contract the customer service levels expected. The NTA will use the contract terms to drive up levels of customer service.
  • Two of the key quality aspects of providing bus services are reliability (i.e. did the service operate) and punctuality (did the service operate on time). NTA monitors all subvented services in Ireland and penalises operators if services fall below the contractual targets.  This same approach will be taken with Go-Ahead. There are also incentives in this contract for beating punctuality targets.

12. How much is this contract worth to Go-Ahead

  • This was a competitive bidding process, and clearly we’re not at liberty to share commercially sensitive information such as tender prices.
  • The process used followed closely the normal public procurement process where the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (the “MEAT” tender) is identified through detailed assessment which includes a weighted score for price and quality.
  • Go-Ahead is being awarded “Preferred Bidder” status at this time. This means the NTA will issue them with a “Letter of Intent” setting out the conditions upon which NTA will award a contract.
  1. How did the tender process work?
  • The tender assessments were conducted on the five tenders received by two separate teams, price and quality. The two assessments were conducted with no information exchange between the teams until following detailed assessments, draft scores were awarded.
  • Only then did the two teams meet to consider if there were any inconsistencies between the price document and the quality document which were provided separately in the tenders.
  • The tender board was made up of three NTA Executives and an external consultant who has significant experience of bus tendering.
  • The weighting ratio between quality considerations and price considerations was 35:65.
  • This was considered by the NTA as the best fit for this competition.
  1. Can Go-Ahead now increase fares to cover costs?
  • This is a Gross Cost Contract where NTA pays the provider to operate the routes and where NTA keeps the fares to offset the cost of providing the services.
  1. What will happen if the new service is not performing to expectations?
  • All contracts have performance KPIs that must be met by the operator for punctuality, reliability and customer service. Failure to meet these targets can result in financial penalties.
  • If performance is persistently poor and KPIs continue not to be met, then termination of the contract can be considered.