Translink yesterday refused to comment as criticism of their fare rises continued to grow.
On Thursday the company announced most fares on Metro, NI Railways and Ulsterbus will be increased from February 16 next year, with most Metro fares rising by 10p, while the average increase will be 4 per cent on Ulsterbus and 4.5 per cent on NI Railways.
The announcement came late afternoon during the UK premier’s visit, and Translink was immediately accused by UKIP of trying to “bury” the news. The SDLP’s transport spokesman John Dallatt said Translink’s non-elected board of directors was “not fit for purpose”.
He said: “After investing millions of pounds in new buses and trains in a successful campaign to encourage people to leave their cars at home we now find that Translink is effectively killing the goose that lays the golden egg.”
In response, Translink referred the News Letter to its statement. On Thursday, the company’s CEO David Strahan said raising fares is “a last resort” but “we have seen many of our costs rise and are facing challenging financial pressures in the year ahead”.
A spokesman for Transport Minister Danny Kennedy’s department said it had advised the Consumer Council of the fare hike shortly before it was released publicly.
He said: “Since 2011 Translink bus fares have increased by 6 per cent and rail fares by 8 per cent. The rate of inflation over the period was around 14 per cent so passengers have actually benefited from a cut in fares in ‘real’ terms.”