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Anger over Translink price hike

THE decision by Translink to increase bus and rail fares by five per cent was last night branded as a "blatant attack on passengers reliant on public transport".

Ten pence will be added to most Metro fares, while Ulsterbus journeys will go up by an average four per cent.

Translink said the average increase on NI Railways journeys would be 4.5 per cent.

Fares had been frozen for the past two years, but Translink's group chief executive David Strahan last night said like many organisations it had seen its costs rise and were "facing challenging financial pressures in the year ahead." "We now have no option but to increase fares across our bus and rail services."

But Trevor Clarke, chairman of the committee for Regional Development, last night said he would be seeking an urgent meeting with Regional Development minister Danny Kennedy and the Translink chief executive. "The committee will be aghast at this announcement and at the underhand

way that Translink has brought these in," he said. "There has been no consultation with the committee, no consultation with stakeholders and, most importantly, no consultation with passengers. "We are in the middle of a process of discussion on the draft budget, which they have ignored.

"We are in the lead up to Christmas, a critical time for retailers and shoppers alike, which they have ignored. At a time when we are asking so many of our citizens to tighten their belts, Translink increases fares to fatten their already substantial reserves."

Aodhan O'Donnell, interim chief executive at the Consumer Council, said: "There is an agreed fare review process that the department of regional development, Translink and Consumer Council engage in prior to any fare increase but this process has been ignored".

The price increases are due to come into effect in February.

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