herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Passengers 'being screwed' by hikes in commuter fares

Dart
Dart

Thousands of bus, rail and Luas commuter passengers in the greater Dublin area have been "screwed" by fare increases of 42pc since 2009 - way above cost-of-living and inflation increases.

Fare increases for those who use the train, bus and Luas to get to work every day in the Dublin area were also far higher than those imposed on public transport passengers around the country.

The shocking figures are revealed in confidential internal Department of Transport documents released to the Herald under the Freedom of Information Act.

The fare hikes have clearly been targeted at commuters who have no other alternative to public sector travel.

funding

The documents show that commuters have been forced to pick up the tab for the €100m, or 32pc decrease, in Government funding in the CIE companies.

The disclosure comes just two months since new fare hikes at the various CIE companies came into force.

According to the documents, fare at Irish Rail and Dart on average increased by 42pc on "all short-hop commuter" trips, while on intercity single fare journeys the increases were 17pc.

For annual and monthly taxsaver fares, a popular choice by workers who live in the commuter belt, the increases since 2009 were 39pc.

At Dublin Bus, adult fares for 1-3 stages rose by 51pc, 42pc for 4-7 stages and 39pc for 8-13 stages. So on average, adult fares at Dublin Bus have increased by 36pc.

The documents show that Luas prices are up 11pc and increases for Bus Eireann tickets were an average of 18pc higher,

The Rail Users Ireland group said increases on most monthly and annual rail tickets amounted to a "targeted attack" on Dublin commuters who have no choice but to use public transport.

Timmy Dooley, Fianna Fail's Transport spokesman, last night said that the documents show how commuter passengers are "being screwed" by a succession of misguided fare hikes.

He was also highly critical of Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe and the Government for a hands-off approach to the continued spiral of fare hikes at a time when it is trying to encourage people to use public transport.

SUBSIDY

In response, a spokesman for the Transport Minister said the fare hikes were a matter for the NTA. He added that for the first time in seven years, the Government subsidy to CIE was not reduced.

Irish Rail have said discount promotions on train tickets ensured Irish Rail travel costs were below European norms, despite the impending fare increases.

"The fare determination gives clarity as we plan our finances and services for 2015. Discount options are available for all travel types - including online for Intercity, season tickets for regular commuters and Leap cards also.

Through this range of fares, rail travel costs for customers remain below European averages, with PSO funding also lower than European norms," a spokesman said.

hnews@herald.ie

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