Metro and Shields Ferry fare changes for 2015 include price reductions for young people and a price freeze for pensioners and people with disabilities.
There will also be more flexible ways for passengers to pay for their travel rolled out over the course of next year.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, has capped the average fare rise at 2.2%, below the 2.5% Retail Price Index (RPI) rate of inflation in July this year used by the rail industry to benchmark changes.
The new fares, which come in from 2 January, were agreed at a meeting of the North East Combined Authority’s Transport North East (Tyne and Wear) Sub-Committee (TWSC) on Thursday 13 November.
The 2015 fares include reductions in the cost of some Metro season tickets as passengers are given a wider choice of annual MetroSaver products, and a freeze in the cost of the basic one zone single Metro ticket at £1.80.
Nexus says passenger numbers are rising, ticket sales are healthy and fare evasion has been reduced to a new low since electronic ticket gates were introduced at key stations last year.
It operates Metro as public service, without profit, but must propose annual fare changes which meet rising operating costs, with local councillors making the final decision.
Cllr Frank Lott, Chairman of NECA’s Transport North East (Tyne and Wear) Sub-Committee, said: “We have agreed Metro fare changes below the rate of inflation, which is significant for hard-pressed household budgets at this time.
“We were determined to keep any price rises as low as possible while making sure Metro has the funds to meet its operating costs, and we have been able to deliver that.”
“I am also pleased that we have agreed price cuts for young people in the 16-18 age range as well a price freeze for older and disabled people who buy Gold Card.”
Director General of Nexus, Bernard Garner, said: “Metro fares offer the best possible value for money, with average increases pegged below inflation for the second year running. Metro remains the cheapest rail or tram system in the country.
“This is helped by growing passenger numbers and the impact of automatic ticket gates, which are making fare evasion tougher and delivering extra revenue.
“Metro’s finances are underpinned by a long-term funding agreement with the Government and we do not now ask local councils to pay a penny towards operating costs. Metro is run as a public service, not for profit, but as costs increase each year we do have to keep our fares under review.”
He added: “Customers told us they wanted more flexible ways to pay, and we have acted on that. They will, as one example, be able to buy annual MetroSavers for specific zones.”
The Metro fares for 2015 include:
- A reduction in the cost of Metro tickets for 16-18 year olds through the introduction of a £7.50 weekly ticket. The price of a four-week ticket will be set at £28, offering unlimited Metro travel for just £1 per day.
- A freeze in the price for tickets available to children travelling without an Under 16 Pop Card
- A 30% discount for students compared to the cost of the equivalent adult product.
- A freeze in the cost of the Metro Gold Card, which offers off-peak Metro and Shields Ferry travel to pensioners and people with disabilities for an annual one off payment of just £12.
- Nexus will be introducing one-zone and two-zone Annual MetroSavers for the first time, offering cheaper season tickets to customers making shorter journeys.
- A new product for monthly Metrosaver customers allowing them to pay for their pass in line with their monthly pay dates. Students would be able to pay for their MetroSavers on a term by term basis.
- A freeze in the cost of a one-zone adult single ticket at £1.80. Two-zone and three-zone singles would go up by 10p, to £2.70 and £3.40 respectively.
The Metro DaySaver would go up by 10p. The one zone DaySaver will cost £2.70, the two zone will cost £3.70 and a three zone will cost £4.60.
The annual three zone MetroSaver would cost £515, offering the holder unlimited Metro travel for just under £10 per week.
The cost of a single ticket on the Shields Ferry would go up by 10p from £1.50 to £1.60. The cost of a Ferry DaySaver would be frozen at £2.60.
In line with the national rail fare review, the Retail Price Index (RPI) comparison is based on a date of July 2014, when the RPI was at 2.5%