Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (594)

Tony McLoughlin


594. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if discussions with her British Government equivalent will be held in order to consider the possibility of allowing the free travel scheme to be utilised in the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39532/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Employment)

The 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 over 80 private transport operators.  There are currently approx. 953,000 customers with direct eligibility.  Following announcements in Budget 2019 the funding for the free travel scheme was increased by €5 million to a total of €95 million.

The scheme is available to all people aged over 66 living permanently in the State.  In general access to a free travel pass for those aged under 66 is linked to a person being in receipt of certain primary Social Protection payments such as disability allowance, invalidity pension, carer’s allowance, blind pension and partial capacity benefit.   

The objective of the free travel scheme is to ensure older people and people with disabilities remain active within their community.

In 2007 the All Ireland free travel scheme was introduced to allow free travel pass holders aged 66 and older to travel free of charge on all bus and rail services within Northern Ireland.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.