Fares Up Again, Fewer Trains, Broken Promises
November 19th 2012
Rail commuters in Dublin face increases of up to 14% on what are already high fares for a service which continues to be reduced, with significant off-peak cuts to Maynooth line services from January 2013 and continued use of 4-coach DART services at peak times. In four cases the National Transport Authority granted fare increases greater than those requested by Irish Rail, this defies logic and exposes the National Transport Authority as a body favouring the transport operators and not the passenger. Rail Users Ireland condemns the actions of the National Transport Authority as being anti-passenger.
The monthly fare for unlimited use of all Bus/Rail/Luas services in Dublin is now 190 euro, the equivalent in Stockholm 92.00, Berlin 95.00, Paris is 111.50, Madrid 126.00. The facts speak for themselves, commuters are being ripped off. Irish Rail openly admit that Dublin based commuters are the target by stating demand is 'inelastic', essentially that rail commuters have no other option but to travel by train.
Despite much talk, the National Transport Authority has failed to follow through its multi-annual intercity fares changes in any meaningful way. Despite commitments to do so, single fares for many routes remain disproportionately high relative to return fares, booking fees remain on all intercity tickets purchased online even for cases where Irish Rail know the reserved seat offered doesn't exist and the normalization of the distance bands upon fares are based has not happened.
Mark Gleeson, spokesperson, Rail Users Ireland, said "There has been no attempt to resolve the abnormality where weekly, monthly and annual tickets are the same price per distance nationwide, but single and return fares vary widely based on the specific route. For example a monthly ticket between Laytown & Dublin costs the same as one between Wicklow & Dublin at 195 euro per month, but a day return is 19.90 Laytown - Dublin, but only 13.20 Wicklow - Dublin, clearly Wicklow commuters are overcharged for monthly tickets."
Mark Gleeson, spokesperson, Rail Users Ireland, said "Public transport is funded to provide a public service to support the economy of the country. Lack of access to affordable and reliable public transport is a recognized barrier to taking up employment"
While increasing prices can only lead to a reduction in public transport use, a reduction in fares may stimulate the market and result in an increase in demand. In the case of the Limerick area student ticket sales are reported to be 70% up on previous years, a trend repeated across many routes following a simplification of the fares and rules. This shows that targeted initiatives focused on making travel easier and cheaper delivers results.
At no point in the fares determination is any reference made to if Irish Rail is meeting its contractual obligations in terms of customer service, punctuality and reliability. The contractual requirements were clearly written in a manner to ensure compliance was assured. For instance an obligation to post a notice of booking office hours at each staffed station exists but there is no obligation to confirm the booking office was actually open during those hours.
Fare increases should be a function of the current inflation rate with due recognition of the service standard. Fare increases above inflation should only be applied where there is clear evidence of improvement to the service offered. RUI notes that Luas fare increases are in line with the rate of inflation.