Northern Ireland

Translink says bus and rail fares will rise in February

Ten pence will be added to most Metro fares
Image caption Ten pence will be added to most Metro fares

Fares on buses and trains are to rise from next February - by more than three times the rate of inflation.

Translink said the average increase on NI Railways journeys would be 4.5%.

Ten pence will be added to most Metro fares, while Ulsterbus journeys will go up by an average 4%.

Fares had been frozen for the past two years. Translink's group chief executive David Strahan said raising fares was "always a last resort".

"However, like many organisations we have seen many of our costs rise and are facing challenging financial pressures in the year ahead," he said.

"We now have no option but to increase fares across our bus and rail services."

The fare increases take effect from 16 February.

The company said it would encourage passengers to use discounted multi-journey tickets.

Aodhan O'Donnell, interim chief executive at the Consumer Council said it could not "give passengers the assurance that these fare increases are justified, set at the right level or even if there are more to come in 2015".

"There is an agreed fare review process that the department of regional development, Translink and Consumer Council engage in prior to any fare increase but this process has been ignored," he said.

'Headline figures'

"By its actions today, the department has shown disregard for the views of passengers and key stakeholders such as the regional development committee. This means that rail and bus passengers have not had the representation they are entitled to."

Mr O'Donnell said the only information passengers had received on Thursday were "headline figures on average fare increases".

"This is not enough. There is no detail on how fares on specific bus and rail services will be affected. We know from previous fare reviews that some services increased by three times the overall average."

The Consumer Council called on the department of regional development to "state publicly and clearly what the full impact, both in terms of the financial burden and reduced network coverage, will be for consumers".

"They must also explain if this will be the only fare increase during 2015," Mr O'Donnell added.

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