Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Questions (114)

Dessie Ellis


114. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection the provision being made for persons who had been availing of the free travel scheme under Bus Éireann, but because of the removal of these routes and the subsequent replacement by alternative providers cannot avail of free travel; and if the route is not new but is with a different provider will an amnesty be made to allow these persons to avail of the scheme. [11371/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

When spousal and companion passes are taken into account, there are over 1.1 million customers with some free travel eligibility and there are currently in excess of 745,000 customers with direct eligibility to the free travel scheme. Expenditure on this scheme was frozen at 2010 levels by the last Government leaving a provision for the scheme in 2013 of €77 million. Given the challenging budgetary constraints, my Department is not in a position to consider applications for additional routes to the scheme from transport operators at this time. In this regard, an inter Departmental Committee commenced a review of the scheme last year. One of the aspects being examined is the extent of the service currently provided and this will involve an assessment of the need to adjust the service having regard to its coverage to ensure it is consistent with current and anticipated future needs. This Committee is made up of representatives of my Department, the Departments of Transport, Tourism and Sport and Public Expenditure and Reform and the National Transport Authority. It is expected to conclude its work by the end of the third quarter of 2013. The report will feed into future policy development and the forthcoming budgetary process.