FG criticises 15% rise in rail commuter fares

IARNRÓD Eireann has hiked commuter rail fares by 15% to make them closer to prices on other routes, the company said yesterday.

Ticket prices on a series of routes within an area bounded by Balbriggan, Maynooth, Hazelhatch, and Kilcoole have gone up by between 13 and 16% since November 1.

Fine Gael said yesterday that the hike in the cost of season tickets on the routes makes “a mockery” of Government plans to persuade commuters to switch to public transport.

The price rises have seen annual season fares going from €1,520 to €1,750 for a rail/DART, bus and luas ticket; and from €890 to €1,030 for a commuter rail and DART ticket.

Iarnród Eireann spokesman Barry Kenny said yesterday that the price rise was made in recognition of a “differential” between the ticket costs for these inner commuter areas, and other journeys from outside the satellite towns.

“It doesn’t completely correct the differential but it does ease it a bit — and that’s the reason it’s the inner zone only,” he said.

Rising costs were also a factor in the rail company’s decision to up fares, according to Mr Kenny, who said up to 48% in tax can be claimed back if commuters buy the tickets through an employer ticket scheme.

“We still have a very low commuting cost in this country,” the spokesman said. “It was only one ticket type out of a lot we have in our network, and that was to try and bridge some of that gap.”

Fine Gael deputy environment spokesman Terence Flanagan said the hike was three times inflation.

“This punitive price rise makes a mockery of Government policy to encourage greater use of public transport. What’s more, it undermines the Green party’s commitment to promoting sustainable transport.

“Eleven years of Fianna Fáil Government has seen Dublin’s roads grind to a halt, in tandem with a refusal to develop an adequate public transport system. So to foist a 15% hike on commuter season tickets is not only unwarranted, it also completely undermines any efforts to promote public transport.”

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