Bluebird Care is delighted that the Government have announced that they will not be scrapping the free travel pass which allows people over the age of 65 to travel for free. The article below is from the Irish Independent and details the story in full.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has given assurances that the Government does not intend to revoke the free travel pass and instead proposes to “modernise” the scheme, amid fears that have been brewing over its future.
The free travel pass – which allows people over the age of 65 to travel with state-funded transport operators and up to 90 different private companies for free – was recently reviewed by a working group comprised of members from an interdepartmental government panel and the National Transport Authority.
It is understood that the Government has come under increasing pressure from transport companies to increase funding, as many private companies are believed to have threatened to withdraw their services from the scheme which costs €77m annually.
Mr Varadkar said yesterday that the free travel pass is “very much valued” by the Government.
He said that “any suggestion that we are going to take away the free travel pass for pensioners just isn’t on the agenda”, but that there are issues surrounding it which need to be addressed, particularly in relation to the issue of “fraud and IDs”.
Kevin Traynor – national director of the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland – said that members of his organisation are “fully supportive” of the free travel scheme. However, he said that while the numbers of pass holders has steadily increased funding hasn’t received a boost for four years.
“What you have to remember is that while revenues have stayed static, costs haven’t,” he said. “Costs of diesel, wages, parts and there is more and more legislation coming in to this area so there are even costs associated with that as well.”
Source: The Irish Independent