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Conor Murphy outlines position on Translink fare increases

12 May, 2009

Transport Minister Conor Murphy MP MLA today outlined his department’s position after recent discussions between the Department for Regional Development, the Consumer Council and Translink in relation to the proposed Translink fare increases.

The proposed increases were deferred by the Minister, after the Consumer Council raised concerns about the consultation process between them and Translink.

Speaking about events over recent weeks and the way forward the Minister said: “I made the decision to defer any fare increases when it emerged that the Consumer Council had some concerns about the consultation process.

“Whilst there is little doubt that the confusion caused to the public on this issue has been far from ideal, as Transport Minister, I considered it was essential to listen to the views of the Consumer Council and to provide them a further opportunity to consider Translink’s proposals.

“Over recent weeks the Consumer Council and Translink have met. I am informed that these discussions have been productive and that as a result, a number of changes to specific fares have been agreed. I am aware that agreement has not been reached on every specific fare increase proposed, but at this stage I am content that the consultation process has now been as comprehensive as possible.

“In addition to these discussions, I also invited the newly appointed Consumer Council Chairman and acting Chief Executive to meet with me and I took the opportunity to assure them of the importance and value of their contribution to this process.

“These discussions have concluded and Translink will now present their proposed fare increases and provide customers with details of when these will come into effect.”

Recognising the current economic reality facing both Translink and local people who use public transport, the Minister gave his views on fares increases saying: “My objective throughout this process has been to keep all fares increases and indeed any changes to services to the absolute minimum necessary.

“As I have stated previously, I rejected Translink’s initial proposals and instructed them to bring forward new proposals that would avoid compulsory job losses and keep any fare increases or changes to current levels of service to a minimum.

“Fare increases are never popular, however the commercial reality is that the only alternative at this time to fare increases is compulsory job losses and a review of current levels of service.”

Outlining his commitment to improving public transport here the Minister said: “During my meeting with the Consumer Council, I informed them of my intention to launch later this month, a reform of the entire public transport system here in the North.

“I want to state clearly that my department is absolutely committed to ensuring that public transport across the North meets public need by being affordable, accessible and efficient.

“We will continue to work closely with the Consumer Council, Translink, the Regional Development Committee and the Unions to achieve this.”

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