Bus and rail fares set to increase
Bus and rail fares in Northern Ireland are to increase next month, operator Translink has announced.
The average cost of a ticket to travel on Metro and Ulsterbus bus services will rise by 3% and for journeys on NI Railways by 5%.
The move has been criticised by members of Stormont's Regional Development committee.
Translink insisted the increases were lower than inflation and some of the fares that were being altered had remained unchanged for a number of years.
"We have worked very hard to keep fare increases as low as possible, and indeed, over recent years, our fares have not kept up with inflation," said Translink marketing executive Ciaran Rogan.
"Notably, this will be the first increase on some fares for five and even six years."
He added: "It was recently reported that family motoring costs continue to take a significant proportion of the household budget. In addition, Belfast was cited in the recent European Congestion Index as the most congested city on these islands. As a result we are already seeing more people make the move to take the bus and train.
"By keeping our costs low and thanks to the rising bus and rail passenger numbers, these fare changes compare very favourably to the increases that have been imposed across Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland - and we believe our local passenger transport remains a very attractive and competitive choice compared to the cost of running a private car."
Chair of the Regional Development committee Jimmy Spratt said the fact increases were less than elsewhere in the UK would provide cold comfort to local customers.
"That will be of little consolation to those hard-pressed customers who have shown faith in Translink over the years, particularly in the very difficult economic situation in which we find ourselves," he said.