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Thursday 23 November 2017

Commuters face second rail and bus fare hike this year

Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent

RAIL and bus fares are set to rise again by as much as 6pc across the board, the Irish Independent has learned.

The move comes on top of rail fare increases of up to 13pc earlier this year and a massive drop in commuters using public transport.

CIE has applied to the National Transport Authority (NTA ) for a 6pc increase across all services provided by Iarnrod Eireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann.

If the full increase sought is granted it would bring the price of a 30-day return rail ticket from Dublin to Cork up from €77 to more than €81.

A CIE spokesman confirmed last night that it was in discussions with the NTA in relation to a proposed fares increase in the context of the fare structure for 2013.

However, the timing and amount of the increase would be a matter for the authority, the spokesman added.

The move follows a Government decision to increase its subvention to CIE by €36m this year.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday refused to rule out any fare increases, but stressed there was a need to be very sensitive about the issues.

Fares had already gone up this year and there were increases planned for 2013 and 2014, but there were no immediate plans to implement those increases, he added.

Evidence

The minister said there was some evidence that higher fares led to a reduction in the number of people travelling.

A massive drop in passenger numbers on bus and rail services is a key reason for the perilous financial position of the CIE group of companies.

The power to set and award fare increases has been handed over to the NTA.

In February, inter-city rail users were hit by fare increases of up to 13pc after a decision to radically overhaul the pricing structure.

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.

For example, a single trip from Heuston, Dublin, to Sallins, Co Kildare, increased 9.72pc from €7.20 to €7.90.

The biggest increase of 13.3pc was announced at the start of the year for journeys from Longford town to Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim; Tullamore, Co Offaly, to Athlone, Co Westmeath; and Woodlawn, Co Galway, to Galway town.

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.

The planned increase would add €5 to the cost.

Irish Independent

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