A statement has been issued by Kerry Flyer Ltd in response to allegations by the Kerry Private Bus Operators that it has been undercutting and muscling in on contracts with the likes of Bus Éireann.
It was these concerns which led the private operators to organise a protest drive-through in Castleisland this morning.
In the following statement, Kerry Flyer Ltd sets out it position and its plans regarding the past and future development of the Limerick Road based company:
KERRY FLYER is an accessible transport company that operates in County Kerry. We have operated for 15 years having been set up by a voluntary board in 2001. We are a company limited by guarantee. We are an award winning company, holding Kerry Community Awards, RSA Leading Light awards and ISO 9001 accreditation.
We are licenced bus operators in exactly the same way that these operators are licensed bus operators.
We are all in a competitive working environment – and have been since Kerry Flyer’s entry to the market in 2001. The only difference between our companies is that Kerry Flyer operates as a social enterprise rather than a private enterprise.
This means that we trade for public benefit and a societial purpose. Our surplus is reinvested into the company to provide services for the community and to provide employment and up-skilling opportunities for our staff.
And we have done this very well in our 15 years. We operate a service on behalf of the Department of Social Protection through our contract with the community services programme.
We also operate services on behalf of the Rural Transport Programme (local link – Kerry Communtiy Transport) on behalf of IT Tralee, disability organisations around Kerry and more recently for Bus Éireann.
We are not funded – we provide services on a contract basis and must tender for every single contract that we have. This means that Kerry Flyer Ltd has to continually develop our business model, invest in our staff and put quality and standards to the fore of what we do.
We have used money earned in our commercial activities to provide additional services to older people and people with disabilities and services such as Hello Kerry and our social care scheme.
Subsidisation is provided from our commercial work to our community activities – not the other way around.We spend all of the considerable income we generate, whether that be through contract work, grant aid secured or tenders won, in our local economy.
We have invested in our staff and in their professional development. At least 70% of our employees are drawn directly from the live register, and we have progressed all of the TUS placements we have received over the years into paid employment within Kerry Flyer. We now employ 24 people on a regular basis, three on a contracted basis and three people through employment activation schemes.
We have invested in and worked on our business considerably over the last number of years and have been growing our SME in times of recession.
The assertion that we won our contracts through subsidisation has been found to be false by the Competition Authority, Pobal, Department of Transport and the Department of Education and Skills.
We won our contracts on the quality of our equipment and our staff and through the quality systems that we operate. We applied for eight of the 12 available accessible school transport contracts and we were successful with five of those applications.
These were tendered for through the Etenders platform which is open to all suppliers and has been recognised as the most competitive and transparent mechanism for achieving value for money for public funds.
We have met with these operators and met with their political representatives. We have been audited by Pobal, the RSA and the Fleet Transport Association.
We are registered with the Company Registration Office and the Charity Regulation Authority. We will continue to develop our business and work with other local businesses to improve Castleisland and improve the transport operations available to our community.
It is also worth noticing that of the 39,200 passenger trips provided by Kerry Flyer in 2015, only 3.7% of these were provided to school-age children.
We would like to thank people in the locality for the enormous amount of well wishes and support we have received in the last number of weeks.
We do not intend to make any further comment on this matter. Instead we intend to concentrate on the continuous improvement of our business and the continuous development of our local economic area.
Kerry Flyer is a company limited by guarantee without share capital. Company registration number is 349655 and its charitable status number is CHY 15636.
Directors: David Fitzgibbon, Antoinette Glavin, Sean McCarthy, Patrick Mitchell, Kian Griffin, Yolande Nieman and Monica Prendiville.