independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Passengers paying less for longer trips in rail fare anomaly

The new DART Station at Grand Canal Dock, Barrow Street, . Picture Jim O'Kelly. 22-1-2001
The DART Station at Grand Canal Dock, Barrow Street

RAIL passengers are being hit with higher fares for travelling shorter distances than commuters making longer trips along the same line.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has admitted that passengers travelling between Rush and Lusk and Pearse Station or Howth Junction in Dublin, pay more than those commuting to Grand Canal Dock.

This is despite Grand Canal being further down the line than both stations. The reason is because the NTA has yet to get around to removing "fare anomalies" in the system, it said.

The difficulty was uncovered by lobby group Rail Users Ireland, which said changes to how fares were calculated, introduced last month, led to "serious inconsistencies" in how fares were calculated for some passengers.

It also raised concerns that passengers could be prosecuted under Iarnrod Eireann by-laws, which make it an offence if a passenger purchases a ticket but leaves the train at a station where the fare is higher.

"Sadly these changes fall into a common pattern of no public consultation, where fare revisions are proposed and then only partly undertaken," spokesman Mark Gleeson said.

"The only way to resolve the inconsistencies in the fare structure is to start with a clean sheet, ensuring there is a direct relationship between the distance travelled and the fare charged."

The group said a single adult ticket between Rush and Lusk -- Pearse and Rush and Lusk -- Howth Junction costs €5.70. This compares with €4.35 between Rush and Lusk and Grand Canal, which is further along the line.

However, the NTA said it was moving to a fairer system of distance-based fares, but over a number of years, in a move known as fare reclassification.

This was in order to "phase-in" any significant fare increases for rail users who had benefitted in the past from the anomalies.

"Rectifying historical anomalies can result in some fares going up and some going down," it said.

"The authority will continue to remove fare anomalies that exist on a phased basis over the coming years.

RECLASSIFICATION

"We are, however, currently looking at that small number of cases where a longer trip by single ticket costs less than a shorter journey along the same corridor, with a view to possibly bringing forward sooner the required fare reclassification."

The agency, which sets prices for bus and rail passengers, added it had not raised fares beyond the distance-based formula for any passengers.

The €4.35 fare from Rush and Lusk to Grand Canal was a reduction for customers, it added, while the €5.70 fare between Rush and Lusk to Pearse/Howth Junction would fall under the fare reclassification, leading to cheaper travel bills.

Irish Independent

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