Written Answers. - Free Travel Scheme.

Noel Ahern

Question:

69 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Social Welfare the number of widows between the ages of 60 and 66 years of age who previously enjoyed free travel as a dependent of their husband; the estimated cost of extending the scheme to them; the cost of making one free long distance ticket per year available to them; if he will consider its extension; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

At 31 December 1992 there were approximately 16,700 widows aged 60 to 65 inclusive in receipt of a social welfare payment. Figures are not available as to how many of these widows' late husbands were in receipt of a free travel pass. To extend free travel to all widows in the 60 to 65 age group would cost £1.1 million annually. The cost of making a free long-distance return rail-ticket available to this group is estimated to be in the region of £0.4 million.

Any changes in the free travel scheme would have to be considered in a budgetary context.