herald

Sunday 16 December 2018

Price hikes on the way for bus and rail passengers

HIGHER fares are on the way for intercity bus and rail passengers after applications were made for the hikes.

Both Iarnrod Eireann and Bus Eireann have asked the National Transport Authority (NTA) for permission to implement the increased charges.

The companies have sought increases that average over 6pc, it is believed.

It follows an announcement by Dublin Bus that its fares are to rise by up to 4.5pc from next week.

The NTA confirmed it has approved a hike of between 5c and 10c for bus fares in the capital from February 6, representing an increase of between 2.8pc and 4.5pc.

Holders of weekly, monthly, annual and multi-trip tickets are not affected.



Card

The exemption is expected to encourage people to move to the new 'smart-card' system which is being rolled out. It is expected the latest applications will be ruled on within weeks.

Dublin Bus had sought an average fare increase of 6.3pc but the NTA turned down the application for a 5c increase on all child fares.

The authority said Dublin Bus fares could be reviewed again if the company suffered a significant reduction in passenger numbers over the coming year.

It is also possible some bus routes will face a reduction in services.

Passenger numbers fell across the CIE group of companies last year, with Iarnrod Eireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann losing 25 million passengers.

Government payments to the companies have also fallen.

Dublin Bus accounted for two-thirds of the lost passengers.

The last fare increase for the company was in January 2009, when it increased fares by 10c for an adult and 5c for a child.



Fallen

The Railway Procurement Agency, which runs the Luas, has not applied for an increase.

Dublin Bus passenger numbers have fallen by 29 million between 2007 and 2010, a decline of 18pc.

The request for an increase in fares across CIE has come after former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey announced late last year that the Government was reducing the State's annual subvention to the group by almost 4.5pc this year.

Bus Eireann, Dublin Bus and Iarnrod Eireann will see their overall subsidy fall by €12.5m to €266m.

Mr Dempsey had claimed the shortfall could be offset by CIE through internal cost savings, rather than fare increases.

However, the NRA said Dublin Bus has already implemented a range of cost-saving measures worth €40m a year.

comurphy@herald.ie

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