SDLP Infrastructure Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has said that a fares increase from Translink will punish the worst off in society.
He was speaking after Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris directed Translink to raise prices, with a 7% increase being put in place.
Mr Durkan pointed to the SDLP’s freezing of public transport fares while in government and said the increase would hurt people struggling due to the cost of living crisis.
He said there was also a duty to encourage people to use more sustainable forms of transport to tackle climate change.
Foyle MLA Mr Durkan said:
“At a time when families across the North are finding it harder than ever to pay their bills, put petrol in their cars and food on the table, I struggle to understand what the NI Secretary is hoping to achieve by rolling back the SDLP’s previous commitment to freezing public transport fares and heaping further pressure on people at what is already a difficult time.
“This is a Tory government that allows energy companies to make huge profits while the public pays the price and it’s ridiculous that they would rather impose additional costs on people here than make these companies pay their fair share. Tory austerity is negatively impacting every aspect of life here and without an Assembly or Executive in place we are at their mercy.
“I understand the pressures Translink face and the efforts of their staff, but when we are encouraging people to use more sustainable forms of transport and to leave their cars at a home the last thing we should be doing is creating further barriers and hiking prices. We know how harmful vehicle emissions are to our environment and if we're serious about tackling the climate emergency then we need to take steps to make cleaner modes of transport more accessible, not less.
"Many in our society rely on public transport, particularly our younger and older generations, to get them to school, work and important appointments and it’s deeply disappointing that they now face further costs as a result of this decision.”