Commuters to pay higher bus, rail fares
BUS and rail fares are likely to increase over the coming months after funding for the public transport companies was cut for the sixth year in a row.
Funding to subsidise the cost of operating loss-making services has been reduced by €18m, or 7pc, heaping more pressure on the CIE group of companies including Bus Eireann, Dublin Bus and Iarnrod Eireann.
The companies have already sought fare increases from the National Transport Authority, and a decision is expected over the coming weeks.
If approved, it will be a further blow to commuters who experienced two increases last year alone.
More than 230 million journeys are made across the public transport network every year and any increase will affect passengers using city, rural and inter-city services.
Funding for road maintenance has also been reduced by €50m this year, and no new projects will go ahead.
However, money will be available to carry out basic maintenance, but many local and regional roads will not be upgraded.
"Unfortunately there will be no scope for new projects or improvements. This is a very challenging reduction but we will strive to make the most of the very limited resources," Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said.
The Department of Transport has also reduced payments to regional airports by €1m, and cut €46.5m from the roads budget by reducing funding to resurface local and regional roads and demanding efficiencies from the National Roads Authority.
In all, some €750m will be available for roads, but much of this will go towards repaying the cost of building the motorway network.
Another €7m has also to be found to pay the cost of search-and-rescue operations at sea which have risen.