Translink raises fares after losses

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Translink has increased passenger fares on Metro bus services, Ulsterbus services and for travel with NI Railways. John Simpson, reporting for the Belfast Telegraph, said that the increases are slightly out of phase with the annual accounting periods for Translink and apply different rates of fare increase in the separate companies.

For Translink’s bus services, in the year to March 2014, even with a significant offset to depreciation charges (partly as a result of large grants on the cost of new buses) Ulsterbus, on turnover of £98m, made a pre-tax loss of £3.4m. Metrobus, on a turnover of £37m, made a pre-tax profit of £0.1m. The two bus companies are not attracting significant increases in passenger numbers. The trading figures for the bus companies raised concern on whether some form of switch to competitive services might be justified.

Mastercard Tramadol Translink has argued that injecting commercial criteria into bus services could be dangerous if there was any concern about maintaining a comprehensive series of bus services. While main inter-urban routes would attract commercial bids and could earn a return for the operators, the doubt is whether a large number of the lesser used routes, often focused on rural areas, would survive in an open market. For Translink’s railway services, it was found that after the trading position was adjusted for £43m of official support, the profit and loss account shows a pre-tax loss of £2.5m in the year to March 2014. As a free standing commercial entity, the trading revenue would have needed to be over 60% higher.