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Friday 15 December 2017

Commuters face cash fare hike in 'smart' system

Paul Melia

PUBLIC transport operators will hike the price of cash fares to encourage people to switch to the new 'smart card' system.

The cost of using public transport in Dublin will rise from the middle of next year unless people make the switch to the integrated ticketing system (ITS) which will be rolled out in 2011.

Fares on Dublin Bus currently run from €1.15 to €2.30, while DART fares run from €1.40 to €4. But hikes of up to 10pc could be imposed on cash fares next year.

Last night, director of the Integrated Ticketing Project Tim Gaston confirmed that "differential" fares would be used, adding that the cost of switching to a smart card for regular users would not be prohibitive. "A deposit will be taken when the card is first purchased. That will be modest enough, a few euro," he said. "If there's value on the card you'll be able to take a journey.

"If you've €1 on the card and you take a journey of €4, the card goes into negative €3. When you top-up, the money owed is subtracted.

"Schemes all over the world have some kind of incentive. When they're everywhere and you can use them then there should be a differential in the cash fare."

A source said that cash fares were likely to rise from their present levels as opposed to offering a discount on 'smart card' fares.

"We're creating an all-mode ticket (ITS) and at the time (it's being rolled out), we'll be looking at differential pricing," the source said. "We're probably more likely to put up cash fares than discounting fares. The hope then is that people sign up to it. The convenience element is important, and it's helped if there's a reduction in fares."

Commonly used in other cities, the 'smart card' allows commuters to travel on bus, rail and tram without having to buy tickets for each leg of the journey.

Instead, they pre-pay and wave cards near magnetic readers installed in train stations and tram and bus stops at the start and end of their journey.

A computer system calculates the appropriate fare and deducts it from the customer's account.

First promised in 2002, the ITS system is expected to be fully operational across all public transport systems by next summer. So far €36.6m has been spent. The final bill will be €55m.

Irish Independent

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