A WEST Belfast MLA has criticised plans to increase Translink fares by up to seven per cent from 6 March.

People Before Profit's Gerry Carroll said that the plans to hike public transport fares will drive people away from Translink during the cost of living crisis.

“These proposals are a short-sighted attempt to address the failure to promote and improve the use of public transport," he said. "The bottom line is that low-paid and unemployed people will struggle to afford these new fares.  

“We should be incentivising the use of Translink’s services through more affordable fares. This would help expand our public transport network and move us in the direction of a greener economy.

“Some countries have already implemented free public transport, which is better for the environment and for society as a whole. I fear Translink is heading in the totally wrong direction with its fare proposals.”  

Earlier today, a Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: "In his Written Ministerial Statement of 24 November 2022, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland stated that steps would need to be taken to improve Translink’s sustainability through the uprating of public transport fares.

"The Department fully recognises the challenges facing many people in the current cost of living crisis. However, significant budget pressures mean the below inflation uplift is needed to maintain and improve public transport services.

"Translink will continue to offer a range of good value fares and we would encourage users of public transport to look for the best value options available.

"We would also continue to encourage people to reduce carbon emissions by walking, wheeling or cycling or using public transport, rather than private vehicles, to help address the climate emergency."