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Disparities emerge in dates for public transport fare reductions

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Disparities have emerged among State transport companies in relation to how soon and to which fares the Government’s new 20 percent subsidy is being applied.

The reduced fares are intended to apply to customers on all subsidised public-service obligation (PSO) public transport services, including those provided by Irish Rail, Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus, Luas and Go-Ahead Ireland.

Bus Éireann said it has applied the full 20 per cent discount on all fares including “walk-up” fares, which are not pre-booked. However Irish Rail has said it will not apply discounts to the walk-up fares until the scheme is expanded in May.

Irish Rail does already apply the scheme to its online fares, including those in the Dublin region, while other transport companies in the Dublin region including Dublin Bus, Luas and Go-Ahead Ireland will only apply the 20 per cent discount from May 09th.

The differences have led to some confusion over the scheme which is to run until the end of 2022. For example, a passenger buying a walk-up, cash ticket from Galway to Limerick will get the 20 per cent reduction on Bus Éireann services.

However a passenger getting a walk-up, cash ticket for the same journey with Irish Rail will not be eligible for the 20 per cent reduction until May.

A spokesman for Irish Rail said the organisation was not doing anything outside the scheme as originally announced by the National Transport Authority (NTA).

The NTA said the introduction of the discount on some fares was “complex”, and it had been decided to introduce the less complex ones first.

A spokesman said the authority “tried to be as clear as we can on this since the 20 per cent reduction was announced in February” .

The spokesman said Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan announced in February that “the reduced fares would be in place in early May” and this had followed and earlier announcement of a 50 per cent reduction in fares for young adults, which had been made in Budget 2022.

The spokesman said: “While we were working through fare reductions with the operators, it was clear that some could in fact be delivered in advance of the May date, so we went ahead and made those changes, particularly on the 20 per cent reduction”.

“Tax saver reductions came into effect on April 1st, and Public Service Obligation (PSO) bus fares for Bus Éireann and Local Link and some others kicked in last week.

“The rest are due to be changed on May 9th. We could have waited until May to make all the changes, but we had an opportunity to ease the burden on at least some of our customers, so we thought that was the right thing to do,” he said.

The changes on May 9th will include the 20 per cent reduction in fares in the Dublin Area and the “additional 50 per cent reduction” for young adults across all PSO services nationally” he said.

However, he said the moves were not without complications. “That 50percent change involves modification of the existing Student Leap card for those who qualify as students, and the creation of a completely new product, the Young Adult Card, for those that don’t. So it’s not as straightforward as some might think”, he said.

“The changes that were less complex were introduced first. Others are a bit more complicated and as expected, have taken a bit more time, but are still on schedule”, he concluded.

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