Tens of thousands of Dublin commuters affected as long-awaited proposal to reduce fares is postponed – The Irish Times

A proposal to introduce cheaper fares on public transport across the Dublin commuter belt will not be implemented until January at the earliest, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

The Dublin Commuter Zone was an initiative to bring reduced fares to parts of north Co Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Co Wicklow within a radius of 23km of Dublin city centre. When implemented it could see season tickets fall by as much as €500 per annum.

The new fare system was expected to come into effect by the end of September, and will see around 80 per cent of fares either remain the same or drop. For example, the price of a single train journey from Drogheda, Co Louth, to Dublin Connolly station will be halved from €11.95 to €6, while a single journey from Newbridge, Co Kildare, to Dublin Heuston will drop from €10.85 to €6.

Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, National Transport Authority (NTA) chief executive Anne Graham said the delay was “unfortunate”.

She revealed that the contractor involved, which was not named, has now told Irish Rail that it cannot implement the changes involved until the first quarter of next year. She told Oireachtas members that the contractor which manages Irish Rail’s ticketing system is “not in a position to deliver to the timeline that we would have liked. We are very disappointed that this is delayed.”

Meath East TD Darren O’Rourke said the delay would impact “tens of thousands of commuters” who would now suffer as a result of it. He said many commuters were opting to take the car or to drive to train stations within the existing commuter belt to avail of cheaper fares.

Labour TD Dundan Smith added that the campaign has been going on for six years to include towns like Newbridge into the Dublin Commuter Zone. At one stage 8,000 signatures were handed over to the NTA calling for it to be implemented. He told the committee that it was “greatly needed” as many people had made life choices to move out of Dublin based on the reduced cost of commuting.

Ms Graham said it was not in the interest of the NTA that this delay was in place. The NTA relied on the public transport providers themselves, in this case Irish Rail, to deliver the necessary infrastructure.

NTA director of public transport services Jeremy Ryan said the delay was due to the software programme needed and also the gating equipment that is needed to implement the new fare structure. “When we originally sought a timetable it was quarter three. When they (Irish Rail) engaged more with their contractor their contractor informed them that they weren’t able to make the timetable expected by Irish Rail.”

NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan said a “major body of work” has been ongoing to make sure the tender documents for the contract are in place along with planned enabling works. “As soon as the Railway Order comes out we have a clear pathway to deliver it on the ground.”

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