‘Increasing bus fares could put people off public transport’

A Translink Metro bus leaves the stop outside the Thunderdome in Glengormley. INNT 17-441-RM
A Translink Metro bus leaves the stop outside the Thunderdome in Glengormley. INNT 17-441-RM

TRANSLINK’S plan to increase bus and rail fares from April 30 could put people off using public transport, a local councillor has warned.

The company confirmed this week that local Metro bus users face a price rise of around 10p per single journey, with similar increases on Ulsterbus and NI Railways services. However, there will be no increase in fares for passengers who use a pre-paid Smartlink multi-journey card.

“Fares on average are rising by three per cent. This is unfortunately necessary as many of our costs are rising sharply - but we have kept it as low as possible and below inflation,” said Translink’s Marketing Executive, Ciaran Rogan.

“We have held all our fares for almost two years despite rising fuel costs and we know our customers really appreciated this fares freeze in these tough economic times. More and more people are already using our great everyday value tickets and offers for bus and train travel, particularly as fuel and motoring costs have continued to rise.

“We have been working very hard to reduce our costs and keep any fare rises as low as possible. We have managed to keep many fares unchanged; once again we have held our Smartlink multi-journey fares for Metro bus journeys so many of our customers should not have to pay any more if they simply move onto these great value cards. They can be loaded with as few as five journeys to be used over 12 months and the majority of Metro passengers can save as much as 40 per cent compared to paying cash,” he added.

Responding to the announcement of fare increases, Newtownabbey Alliance councillor Lynn Frazer, a regular user of public transport, warned that some people may be put off using buses and trains.

“I can appreciate the difficulty Translink is experiencing due to the fact that the price of petrol and diesel has gone up significantly, but these price increases could make it prohibitive for some people, especially families, to use public transport,” she said.

While acknowledging that people who use Translink’s pre-paid Smartlink card will not be hit with increased fares, councillor Frazer added: “I use the SmartCard, but not everyone is in a position to be able to pay out a significant amount of money up front, so increasing cash prices might actually put some people off using public transport altogether.”

Antoinette McKeown, Chief Executive Officer at the Consumer Council, said it was “disappointing for consumers” that fares are to rise across some services.

For more information about Translink fares and best value offers, log on to www.translink.co.uk or call the contact centre on 9066 6630.