NEW fare increases on all Metrolink services have been slammed as “another blow for hard-up passengers”.
From January 2018, Metrolink fares will rise on average by 5.93 per cent, as part of a phased three-year increase.
Transport for Greater Manchester claim 78 per cent of people “who took part in an eight-week Metrolink fares survey opted to spread the increase over this period”.
However, the price rises have been criticised by Shaw Parish Councillor Howard Sykes, who is Leader of the Opposition and Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Oldham Council.
Cllr Sykes represents Oldham MBC on the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee.
“This decision made by the Labour Leaders of nine of the Greater Manchester local authorities, with the support of the Greater Manchester Mayor and the Tory leader of Trafford Council, shows how out of touch they are with the financial situation of many tram passengers,” he said.
“This increase comes on top of an increase of 3.6 per cent in fares on our railways which were introduced in July of this year.
“This is the first of three years of pain as Metrolink fares will be steadily increased year on year.
“But the pain will not end there as from January 2021, fares will increase annually by one percent above inflation.
“Labour complains constantly about Tory austerity and wage freezes in the public sector and then hits passengers who are feeling the pinch with unremitting fare increases. This is simply not fair – Metrolink is in profit.
“We should be encouraging more passengers to use the service and cracking down on fare evasion to increase revenue, not hammering the fare-paying passengers who already use it.”
Cllr Sykes says increased fares will result in trams passengers reverting to their cars.
“This increases air pollution and traffic congestion,” he added. “This is not good for us or for our planet or Greater Manchester.”
Defending the increases TFGM say Metrolink receives no public subsidy, so any fares revenue from the increases pays for the rise in network operating costs.
The increase will also cover the costs of borrowing secured to pay for the recent major tram network expansion programme.