Hat tip to Martin Baumann, who sent me this photograph of a poster today.
I’m still waiting to hear, as are all of us, what the impact in cash terms will be on Ulsterbus and Metro, beyond a statement in December that Metro cash fares (and by extension the three lowest Ulsterbus fares) would go up by 10p each – it isn’t clear, for example, whether Metro smartlink fares will also rise by 10p.
Where I want to start the conversation is to remind you all that DRD faced a rather large budget cut. The final budget shows that £8.7 million extra was found for roads and £2.4 million for transport, and £7.5 million for capital spending on roads and £7.1 million for capital spending on transport (including the Strangford ferry, buses, and Phase 2 of the Coleraine-Derry railway line etc). I haven’t found detailed figures, but that still leaves at least £12.6 million of cuts from Translink’s 2014-15 revenue subsidy levels. (Sorry – I’ve edited this paragraph because I misread the figures!)
Back in December, the Consumer Council was up in arms about the proposed fare rises, but this ignored the reality that in 2014-15 Translink has lived off reserves to avoid putting fares up, and that was for political reasons. Those reserves are therefore gone.
Hardly anybody wants to see fares go up, and I certainly don’t, but the circumstances in which we find ourselves are extremely hostile to that with Translink having to stay solvent, upwards pressure due to Translink’s fare structure being cheaper than most of the rest of the British Isles, and any attempt by DRD to reassign money from Roads or NIWater to Translink being even more politically unacceptable.
For what it’s worth, the figures in the photograph are as follows:-
- Minimum adult fare (eg Belfast Central-Botanic) £1.50 to £1.60 (6.67%)
- Maximum single fare (eg Belfast-Derry) £11.50 to £12 (4.35%)
- Maximum day return £17.50 to £18.50 (5.7%)
- Maximum weekly £58 to £64 (10.34%)
- Maximum monthly £195 to £225 (15.38%)
- Minimum monthly value for free weekend travel £75 to £80 (10.67%)
- iLink Zone 4 one day from £15.50 to £16.50 (6.45%)
- Sunday day tracker from £7 to £9 (28.57%)
The maximum fare figures appear to show season ticket holders taking a big hit, but I would urge serious caution until we know figures for passengers making shorter journeys on the former Suburban network (ie Larne/Bangor/Portadown/Ballymena). The figures publicly available could just be showing a reduction in the cap on the maximum fares available, and I’ll be trying to find out more accurate information.
Incidentally, before anyone suggests doing away with the 1/3 off day return offer after 9.30am on NIR, I am reliably informed that off-peak travel increased by more than 50% when this was introduced, more than paying for the off-peak reduction.
A post on why privatising Translink wouldn’t do us the customers the remotest bit of good based on the waste suffered in Great Britain is still in preparation.