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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Winners and losers in public transport fares shake-up

Published 04/11/2016 | 02:30

Some passengers will face an increase in Dart fares Photo: Frank McGrath
Some passengers will face an increase in Dart fares Photo: Frank McGrath

One in four passengers will be hit with increases in their public transport fares next year as the threat of industrial action looms.

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The National Transport Authority (NTA) has announced fares for Luas, Irish Rail, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus services for 2017, and some commuters in Dublin can expect hikes of up to 18pc.

This is because the NTA has completed a restructuring of the fares system which means that commuters will pay based on the distance travelled.

It will result in winners and losers, but the NTA said the vast bulk of passengers - three in every four -will see a fall or no change in their commuting bills.

Some 230 million passenger journeys are made on the public transport network every year.

The changes come after commuters were hit with a series of rolling strikes earlier this year by Luas and Dublin Bus workers.

Staff at Irish Rail and Bus Éireann have also submitted pay claims, and further industrial action is possible.

The main changes involve the railway Dublin Short Hop Zone (SHZ) which will result in passengers travelling from Sallins/Naas and Kilcock in Kildare into the capital enjoying far lower fares.

This is because their local station has been included in the SHZ, resulting in cheaper journey costs.

Of 1,200 'origin destinations', fares will fall between 16pc and 18pc, and in some cases even more, in 262 of these. Some 36 will go up between 16pc and 18pc. The remainder are unchanged.

For example, an adult single Dart trip from Bayside to Clontarf Road currently costs €2.46 if paying with a Leap card, and €3.25 with cash. It falls to €1.73 and €2.20.

Conversely, an adult single Dart trip between Raheny and Bray currently costs €3.56 if paying by Leap, and €4.60 in cash. This increases to €4.69 and €5.90.

The NTA is responsible for setting fares and the companies are allowed to implement the hikes from December 1 next.

Since 2011, most fares have risen year-on-year.

The NTA said the public transport companies would see fare revenues rise by less than 1pc next year as a result of the changes.

The main points are:

A move to charging based on distance travelled in the SHZ will result in fare increases of up to 18pc for some, but they will be reduced by 18pc for others. The NTA said more passengers would see reductions rather than increases.

Commuters travelling from Sallins/Naas and Kilcock in Kildare will enjoy fares almost 50pc lower because both stations have been included in the Dublin Short Hop Zone.

An adult single journey from Heuston station to Sallins/Naas station which currently costs €8.70 will fall to €4.60 cash or €3.56 Leap.

Fares paid using the Leap card will be at least 20pc cheaper than paying in cash.

The fares were set to maintain customer support and passenger numbers while ensuring financial stability for the operators, the NTA said.

"This year's fare determination has taken the opportunity to adjust fares to move closer to achieving the authority's fares policy, such as a discount of approximately 30pc for students, and 50pc for children," it said.

"It is also the view of the authority that annual fares should be approximately equivalent to 10 times a monthly fare."

Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, said: "We are taking a significant step towards making our public transport fare structure simpler, more streamlined and more consistent.

"We believe that the prices people pay should accurately reflect the length of the journeys they're making.

"Leap will always be at least 20pc cheaper for a single journey."

Irish Independent

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