Translink freezes all fares until 2012
Ticket prices for public transport in Northern Ireland will remain at their current levels following a fare freeze.
Translink has promised to hold bus and rail tariffs across all of its services at last year's levels, as consumers struggle with the cost of living.
The good news will offer some respite to householders whose wallets have been hit with rising grocery and fuel prices and falling pay packets.
Indeed, new figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that the price of food is going up at the fastest rate for two years, with some items soaring by over 50%.
Ulster consumers have borne hikes of 10p and 20p per journey over the last three years across different modes of public transport.
A Metro ticket in June 2009 cost £1.60, rising to £1.70 this year, where it will remain until 2012, according to figures provided by the company.
An Ulsterbus journey from Belfast to Dungannon priced at £8 three years ago now costs £8.20 — and will stay until next June.
Translink, which operates Metro, Ulsterbus, Goldline, Northern Ireland Railways and the Enterprise services, said the fare freeze was possible because of new efficiency procedures. It also said these measures allowed the firm to pass on savings that it hopes will help people budget in “difficult economic times”.
Stormont Transport Minister Danny Kennedy said the move was positive for “all consumers who use public transport”.
Director of policy at the Consumer Council, Aodhan O’Donnell, said the cost of travel is of major concern to the people of Northern Ireland.
“It’s an obvious point, but consumers are more likely to use public transport if they believe that the service is providing good value for money,” he said.
A Metro city zone ticket was £1.60 in June 2009. It is now £1.70 and will stay at that price until 2012. A Smartlink multi-journey ticket reduces that price to £1.10 (35% less).
An Ulsterbus fare from Belfast to Dungannon was £8 in 2009. It is now £8.20, but frozen until 2012. Using Smartlink, tickets are £7.75 (30% less).
A train ticket from Belfast to Bangor cost £4.90 in 2009. It rose to £5.10, where it will remain until next year.
Cost savings are based on 10 journeys per week.