North East travel bosses approve ticket price hike on Tyne and Wear Metro and Shields Ferry services as inflation and energy bills send running costs soaring
A raft of price increases for single journeys, day tickets, and Metro season passes are set to come into force on April
The cost of Tyne and Wear Metro tickets will rise by up to 13.9% after a major fare hike was signed off by travel chiefs as part of a package of measures aimed at combating spiralling running costs on the ailing rail system.
After the controversial proposals were unveiled last week, critics called the fare hikes “insulting” to passengers who have put up with months of significant disruption on the network.
However, the price increases will not be applied to passengers who travel using a Pop Pay As You Go card.
For the second year running, the smartcard will have its fare rates frozen – meaning it will be around £1 cheaper to make a single journey with a Pop card and £1.35 less for a daysaver pass.
But for those buying equivalent paper tickets at stations, prices will jump by between 8.8% and 13.9% depending on which zones they cover.
About four in every five Metro passengers still use paper tickets rather than a Pop card, with bosses at operator Nexus still in talks over extending the payment service to iPhones – although it is available for users of Android devices.
The price of monthly and yearly passes will also rise by more than a tenth, although the price of a week-long Metro ticket is being kept lower and will jump only by a maximum 3.4%.
The maximum cost of a single journey will rise from £3.90 to £4.30, a day ticket from a £5.70 to £6.20, a weekly pass from £24 to £24.40, and a four-week ticket from £81.30 to £90.20.
The plans were approved at a North East Joint Transport Committee meeting on Thursday (January 12), where Nexus’s customer services director Huw Lewis said bosses had found it “harder than ever” to balance attempts to make the Metro affordable for customers with the need to pay the bills.
Urging more people to make use of Pop cards, Mr Lewis added that there was “no reason why many, if not most, passengers should pay a single penny more next year”.
Gateshead councillor John McElroy said leaders did not want to put fares up while residents are struggling with the cost of living crisis, but added “we have to balance the books”.
Carl Johnson, the deputy mayor of North Tyneside, added that “astonishing” inflation levels, particularly for the high voltage electricity which powers the Metro system, meant there was no choice but to reluctantly increase ticket prices.
Cllr Johnson praised the Pop price freezes and expressed hopes that fares could be reduced over the coming years by a future North East mayor, who will hold powers over the region’s public transport under a proposed £4.2 billion devolution deal.
Metro prices for young people using Pop Blue or Pop 19-21 smartcards will also be frozen, as will the price of Gold Cards for older and disabled passengers.
But the cost of travelling on the Shields Ferry is rising by up to 30p, though this would again be frozen for Pop card users.