Belfast Telegraph

Poll: Is Northern Ireland public transport too expensive?

Cut fares to get more of us on buses and trains, says Northern Ireland public

By Rebecca Black

Lower fares would get more people on public transport, a Government travel survey has found.

The findings come just weeks after Translink increased prices, with the average ticket for Metro, NI Railways and Ulsterbus going up by 1.6%.

The Travel Survey for Northern Ireland (TSNI) found that just one in six respondents (17%) travelled on a bus once a week or more.

A further 9% travelled by bus at least once a month, but less than once a week, while 44% said they never travelled by bus.

Around one in 30 respondents (3%) travelled on a train once a week or more, and an additional 6% travelled by train at least once a month, but less than once a week.

When asked what would encourage them to use local public transport more often, the most popular answer was cheaper fares (28%), followed by more frequent weekend services (19%).

However, just under a fifth (18%) said nothing would encourage them to use local public transport more often.

Another 11% stated that no improvements were necessary, and a further 4% said that they already use local public transport as much as possible.

The car still dominates when it comes to Northern Ireland people travelling to work.

More than four-fifths of respondents (82%) got to their jobs by car or van.

The majority drove to work on their own (80%), 15% travelled to work with one other person, and the rest (5%) had two or more other people in the vehicle when they drove to work.

There has also been an increase in the number of households which have access to a car - from 74% in 2003-05 to 80% in 2013-15.

In Belfast, 63% of households had access to at least one car in 2013-15, lower than households in the east (83%) and in the west (81%) of Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, just under two-thirds of respondents (63%) took a walk lasting at least 20 minutes once a week, and a quarter of respondents (25%) had cycled in the last 12 months.

Nearly half of these (48%) cycled once a week or more, and an additional 23% cycled at least once a month. Some 38% of cyclists said they would cycle more if there were more bike lanes.

A spokeswoman for Translink said fare-paying passenger numbers had grown by almost 10% in the last six years, with more than 1.5m additional fare-paying passengers carried on its bus and rail network last year.

"We proactively encourage passengers to use the range of great value promotions and multi-journey tickets available and we urge regular users to take advantage of the savings to be made," she said.

"Tickets such as Smartlink multi-journey offer discounts of around 30% for bus travel compared to paying cash fares and recently we have introduced more popular mobile ticketing options to offer customers even greater choice and convenience.

"In addition, off-peak travel offers such as a third off rail and selected Goldline services are also well used. We also have a range of offers available for Easter including a special 50% off Ulsterbus day return fares for the Easter week (April 17-22)."

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