Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (289, 290)

Anne Ferris

Question:

289. Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection if her Department discussed with the National Transport Authority what will happen to bus passes on Dublin Bus routes 17, 17a, 18, 75, 76, 76a, 102, 104, 33a, 33b, 45a, 59, 63, 111, 114, 161, 184, 185, 220, 236, 238, 239 and 270 once these are put out for tender under a public service contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15166/14]

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Anne Ferris

Question:

290. Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will confirm she will not cut the Department's budget for bus passes on Dublin Bus routes 17, 17a, 18, 75, 76, 76a, 102, 104, 33a, 33b, 45a, 59, 63, 111, 114, 161, 184, 185, 220, 236, 238, 239 and 270 once these 23 routes move to a contract under public service obligation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15167/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 289 and 290 together.

The current free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by almost 90 private transport operators. There are currently over 780,000 people in receipt of free travel.

Funding for the free travel scheme was frozen by the previous Government as outlined in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014. During this period it has not been possible to accept additional routes or providers within the scheme. The Department is in contact with the National Transport Authority in relation to any issues arising.

Given the increasing number of recipients and the funding pressures, 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. The purpose of this review is to examine and report on the current operation and future development of the free travel scheme. The work of this group is expected to conclude shortly.