Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (261)

Dara Calleary

Question:

261. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection if holders of travel passes can book seats online and, if not, the reason for same; and her plans to allow them to do so in order to avail of online discounts to make seat bookings and so on. [14803/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The free travel scheme is currently available to all people living in the State aged 66 years or over, to carers and to customers aged under 66 who are in receipt of certain disability payments. The scheme permits customers to travel for free on most CIE public transport services, LUAS and a range of services offered by almost 90 private operators in various parts of the country. The intention of the scheme is that free travel customers can avail of spare capacity on transport services. This Department has an agreement with the companies in terms of compensation for the costs incurred on the basis of fares forgone. In order to participate in the scheme companies must be commercially viable in their own right. Therefore, the free travel scheme should not confer any real financial advantage on participating companies or displace fare paying customers.

I understand that Irish Rail currently allows free travel pass holders to reserve a seat online at a charge of €5.00 - €5.50. Customers are then given a reservation number which they present to the booking office along with their travel pass. However, it is ultimately at the discretion of companies participating in the free travel scheme if they wish to offer such services to free travel customers.