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Translink told to pass savings on to passengers

Northern Ireland’s leading consumer watchdog has called for a reduction in bus and train fares, after dramatic falls in petrol and home heating oil.

The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland last night said it has written to Translink to urge the carrier to review its charges, with a view to bringing down ticket prices.

The comments came as the wholesale cost of oil slumped to a 15-month low of $66.76 a barrel — it’s lowest level since May 2007.

Eleanor Gill, chief executive of the Consumer Council, said that people should demand a cut in fares.

“Consumers are being hit hard by the rising cost of living and need all the help they can get to cope,” she said.

“A family of four is having to find an extra £44 per week just to cover the cost of must-haves like food, heat, shelter and transport.

“Translink fares have increased by nearly 10% since March, largely due to the wholesale cost of oil. Consumers have seen the cost of petrol and diesel fall and even airlines are cutting their fuel surcharges. It is reasonable for passengers to expect that bus and rail fares can fall too. The question that consumers are asking us is how much can fares come down and when?”

MS Gill said Translink has a responsibility to provide value for money.

“The Consumer Council believes that all service providers, including transport and energy companies have a duty to ensure that they are passing on lower prices to their customers as quickly as possible,” she added.

“At this time every penny counts for consumers. Extraordinary times need extraordinary measures. Public transport must offer value for money in order to continue to encourage people to use our buses and trains.”

The Consumer Council also said it was writing to the gas and electricity companies and the Utility Regulator here to urge them to review prices ahead of the winter in light of the sharp fall in the price of wholesale energy.

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