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Translink under fire over latest fare increase

The Consumer Council has criticised Translink for its latest fare increase, claiming customers who pay cash will be hardest hit.

The public transport company is planning to increase prices on some journeys by almost 8%, prompting the watchdog to condemn the move.

From next Monday passengers who pay by cash will be faced with average increases of 2.5% on Metro and Ulsterbus services.

Those who travel with Northern Ireland Railways will face a 4% price hike. However depending on the journey, some could pay fares which are between 5.2% and 7.7% higher.

Chief executive Antoinette McKeown said increasing cash fares in the current economic climate was “the wrong move”.

“With a typical motorist now paying £183 more a year for petrol and £204 for diesel compared to this time last year, Translink has missed an opportunity to encourage new passengers onto public transport by holding fares and providing a value for money alternative to the car,” she said.

“We acknowledge that passengers can avoid the increases by using a Smartlink card or iLink card, however the numbers using these options remain very low.”

Only 6% of Ulsterbus journeys and 20% of Metro journeys are currently made using Smartlink.

Last May Translink faced criticism after it increased fares by an average of 3%, while Ulsterbus and Goldline fares went up by 2%. Cash fares on Metro rose by 10p per journey, but the price of Metro Smartlink multi-journey cards was halted. The company said at the time that Smartlink advance purchase tickets offered savings of 40p per journey.

A spokeswoman for Translink said the company would continue to encourage passengers to use services especially initiatives such as the Smartlink and iLink cards.

From Monday bus fares will rise by an average of 10p.

A single £1.60 fare will increase to £1.70 (6.25%) and tickets which cost £1.90 will rise to £2 (5.26%).

Train fares are set to increase by 4%. A £4.90 train ticket from Antrim to Belfast will rise to £5.10, while a single from Portadown to Belfast will be £7.40.

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