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Trains carry more air around than passengers during off-peak times, says Varadkar

Leo Varadkar has said he is in favour of introducing cheaper off-peak DART fares.

Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated 21.30pm

CHEAPER FARES COULD be on the way for DART users during off-peak times as the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar said he supported the proposal.

The Department of Transport confirmed to TheJournal.ie that Varadkar supported the reduced fares during off-peak times stating that this year the department has a target to increase overall public transport use by 2 per cent, or five million passengers,  on DART, Irish Rail, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann.

Minister Varadkar said:

I think it makes sense. DART is very busy at peak times but for much of the day it carries air around Dublin rather than passengers.

The same goes for buses. It makes sense to me to reduce off-peak fares if we can show that it will encourage more people to use public transport.

Backing a move by Dublin TD Terence Flanagan who asked him if discussions had taken place between the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Irish Rail, Varadkar forwarded the query on to the NTA.

In their response, they said that while “no discussions” had taken place between the NTA and Iarnród Éireann concerning the introduction of lower fares during off-peak hours, they said they were “open to the idea” provided that it can be demonstrated that such fares “stimulate extra passenger journeys” to generate an increase in revenue and as long as there are no technical impediments.

The NTA is now proceeding with a preliminary examination of the possible fare reduction in consultation with Iarnród Eireann.

The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) have given a cautious welcome to the comments from Minister Varadkar.

General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said “we have long been advocating initiatives towards encouraging more people to use Public Transport, our members have been at the receiving end of retrenchment measures partially as a result of the fall in revenue across the Public Transport providers”.

Mr O’Leary went on to say that “it is acknowledged across the EU that adequate subvention is a prerequisite for the provision of modern rail infrastructure which, combined with low fares, encourages high volumes of usage”.

Read: Iarnród Éireann workers may face pay cuts from next month>

Poll: Do you plan to use public transport more in 2014?>

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