Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Transport blow as train and bus fares set to soar

BUS and train fares in Northern Ireland are set to rise despite an indication from Translink that passengers would benefit from falling fuel prices.

The company said today that NI Railways fares would be increased from May 4 by an average of 3%, while Ulsterbus and Goldline fares were going up by 2%.

Cash fares on Metro are to go up by 10p per journey, but the price of Metro Smartlink multi-journey cards is being pegged.

The company said that Smartlink advance purchase tickets offered savings of 40p per journey.

Fares on cross-border services are subject to an even heftier hike — with Enterprise tickets costing 10% more and coach journeys set to go up by 13%.

On Ulsterbus, the minimum fare and the three lowest fares are all going up by 10p, but the maximum single fare remains at £10, while the maximum day return fare is fixed at £15.

Translink had no immediate comment to make on the reasons for the increase, but a statement was due to be released later today.

The fares announcement is a blow to consumers, coming as it does 24 hours after the Budget, in which fuel duty was increased.

Last August Translink raised its fares on the Metro service. It increased by 6.4%, while Ulsterbus and NIR fares were increased by 5% and 4.2% respectively.

In real terms that meant a 10p hike on the current cost of Metro and Smartlink Multi-Journey tickets, while Ulsterbus and NIR users were hit by a maximum rise of 50p on single fares.

At the time, the company blamed the increase on rising fuel costs, but failed to bring them down when fuel costs eased.

On foot of a freedom of information request, the company told the Belfast Telegraph that it should, in time, benefit from falling international fuel prices.

On the Londonderry railway line, the increase is being deferred until the completion of engineering works on June 30.

Day tickets on Ulsterbus town services are being increased from £1.70 to £2.40 but a new day return ticket of £2 is being introduced.

Fares on the Airport Express 600 bus service to George Best Belfast City Airport are being revised to £2 single and £3 return.

On the Sprucefield and Black’s Road park and ride routes, fares are remaining unchanged.

Last month Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy announced that Translink would be shedding 75 jobs.

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