Bus and rail fares to rise across the board within weeks
COMMUTERS will be hit with another wave of fare increases across all bus, rail and Luas services from December 1, the Irish Independent has learnt.
The hikes will be announced by the National Transport Authority (NTA) today.
A variety of increases will hit all public transport users as they will be applied to single and return fares, paid both by cash and Leap card, on Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann, Irish Rail and Luas services.
Increases are expected to vary widely, with some rising by 10pc, while others will only rise by between 4-6pc and rounded up to the nearest 5c or 10c.
The increases are expected to be broadly in line with hikes of up to 10pc in monthly and annual tickets, approved in Sep- tember and taking effect from January 1.
However, it is understood that the increase in cash single and return tickets will take effect from December 1.
There is no single across-the- board increase, and the hike depends on factors including the number of stops travelled, different zones involved, travel times and passenger demand on certain routes.
Significantly, the Leap card fares will be far cheaper after the increase as the gap will widen between the smart card and cash fares.
The NTA is expected to cite CIE's perilous cash position, falling passenger numbers, cuts in government subventions, and soaring fuel costs as justification for the hikes.
The power to set and award fare increases has been handed over to the NTA.
CIE is being forced to hit commuters with years of repeated fare increases due to its deepening cash crisis.
The current system for intercity trains is complicated, with different fares for different regions and different days.
While a number of fares actually fell, most increased and a handful remained the same.
Last February, the NTA also approved an application to increase prices on Dublin Bus pre-paid tickets by an average of 5.6pc. A 30-day Rambler student card increased by 4.9pc from €82 to €86.
As well as fare hikes there are also fears about cuts in bus and rail services.
There is intense speculation that routes with very low usage will be either scrapped or have a reduced volume of services in a bid to stem the spiralling CIE debt.
Yesterday, the Irish Independent revealed that Iarnrod Eireann expects to continue to post losses for another three years. The company's annual report says it lost €20.9m last year, and does not expect to return to profitability until 2016.
This is despite Transport Minister Leo Varadkar telling the CIE group of companies, which includes Iarnrod Eireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, that he expects a dramatic improvement in their financial position from next year.
Bus Eireann made a small profit last year, while Dublin Bus lost €18m. But the latter expects to halt the losses and record a surplus by 2014.