Belfast Telegraph

'Tell Translink passengers how much fares will go up', demands Consumer Council

Ulsterbus, Metro and NI Railway fares will increase on February 16

By Peter Dorman

Ambiguity over Translink's increases to bus and rail fares has left the public in the dark, says the Consumer Council.

The public transport company recently announced that the increases would come into effect on February 16, however they are yet to produce the details.

In December it was said that fares would rise, on average, 4.5% on NI Railways; 4% on Ulsterbus, and in Belfast, Metro bus fares would increase by 10p per journey.

Translink group chief David Strahan said: “Raising fares is always a last resort. We have frozen our fares for almost two years, thanks to increasing passenger numbers and ongoing efficiencies across the business.

“However, like many organisations we have seen many of our costs rise and are facing challenging financial pressures in the year ahead; we now have no option but to increase fares across our bus and rail services.”

Interim chief executive at the Consumer Council Aodhan O'Donnell has criticised the price hikes, claiming that he could not assure passengers that they were “justified.”

Mr O'Donnell said: “If Translink are asking passengers to pay more they must be clear with their customers by how much, and for what services.

“The fact is that there are so many different ticketing options available on Translink's services that many people will not understand exactly what their new fare will be from February 16,” Mr O'Donnell continued.

He added: “Translink need to provide transparent and customer focused communications ahead of the fare increase so that passengers can make informed choices about what service is best value for them.”

Department of Regional Development committee chairman Trevor Clarke of the DUP tweeted that he was “aghast” at the fare rises when they were announced in December.

Labelling the indeterminate increases as “a disgrace,” UKIP MLA David McNarry also feels strongly about Translink's actions.

Mr McNarry said: “There has been no consultation. Translink seem to think they are above all scrutiny by implementing these increased charges.

“They are asset rich and have millions in the bank.”

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