Free Travel Scheme, Government Pulls Back, keep an eye out for what they target instead….

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Dáil Issues, Transport Tourism and Sport

Question No:  94 Ref No:  30807/14

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if the free travel pass for older citizens will not be restricted, or charged for.

– Clare Daly.

*  For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 15th July, 2014.

R E P L Y

The free travel scheme is currently available to all people living in the State aged 66 years or over, to carers and to customers under 66 who are in receipt of certain disability type payments.  There are currently over 790,000 customers in receipt of free travel at an annual cost of €77 million.

The freeze on funding for the scheme introduced by the previous government in 2010 as part of its four year plan, the Programme for National Recovery, has placed pressure on the operation of the scheme as eligible passenger numbers have continued to rise.  In the context of the freeze on funding, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and I established a working group with representatives from the two Departments, as well as the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Transport Authority to review the free travel scheme.  I expect that group to complete its work soon.  When we receive its recommendations we will consider them.  

In the context of a very tough budgetary environment, the Government will continue to do its utmost to protect the most vulnerable people in Irish society.  This includes the free travel scheme, which we have protected in successive Budgets and will continue to protect.  The free travel pass is safe for beneficiaries.