Campaigners are calling for a freeze in Metro fare prices for commuters between Sunderland and Newcastle after claims they are being used to subsidise cuts for other travellers on the network.
Passengers who buy an annual travel card between Sunderland and Newcastle are now being charged 11.7% more for their tickets.
This is a real kick in the teeth for passengers who are paying more but who still have to put up with crowded trains and regular delays.Liberal Democrat campaigner Niall Hodson
Councillors in charge of Tyne and Wear’s public transport approved an average ticket price increase of 0.4% in November, with the increases coming into force last Saturday.
However, while the cost of most Tyne and Wear Metro, bus, rail and Shields ferry tickets have been frozen or cut, those who travel through all three Metro zones every day are facing a huge increase in the price of their tickets.
Wearside Liberal Democrats say it means people commuting to Newcastle from Sunderland in Zone C face a bigger increase in the cost of their tickets, compared to those travelling from Newcastle and Gateshead’s suburbs.
Those who buy an annual MetroSaver ticket and travel to Newcastle from stations within Zone A will see the price reduced by £35 to £415, a 7.8% decrease from 2015.
In contrast, an annual MetroSaver travelcard between Sunderland and Newcastle (Zones A, B and C) now costs £575 – up from £515 last year, an 11.7% increase.
Wearside Liberal Democrats are now calling for the North East Combined Authority to cut the cost of monthly and yearly MetroSaver travel passes for commuters from Sunderland to Newcastle.
Lib Dem campaigner Niall Hodson said: “It is completely unfair that as most ticket prices have been frozen or cut, commuters between Sunderland and Newcastle are paying nearly 12% more for their yearly travelcards compared to last year.
“This is a real kick in the teeth for passengers who are paying more, but who still have to put up with crowded trains and regular delays.”
Bosses at Nexus, which owns the Metro, have hit back at the claims, saying that fewer than 1,000 passengers buy annual tickets.
“It is nonsense to say Nexus discriminates against commuters in Sunderland,” said Tobyn Hughes, managing director.
“We have reduced the price of annual MetroSaver tickets for all one-zone journeys – so commuters travelling on an annual pass to Sunderland city centre from any other station in Sunderland will be paying less this year.
“The all-zone annual MetroSaver, which is used by less than 1% of our customers, still offers unlimited travel across the entire Metro network for less than £2.50 per day – cheaper than comparable annual rail tickets in all other cities.”