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 over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approximately 937,000 customers with direct eligibility with an annual allocation of €95 million.
Persons resident in Ireland who are over 66 and persons in receipt of certain social welfare payments are eligible for the scheme. The social welfare payments that allow persons aged under 66 to a free travel pass include disability allowance, invalidity pension, carer’s allowance and partial capacity benefit. While medical evidence will be required to determine eligibility for these schemes, it does not, of itself, entitle a person to free travel.
A person in receipt of an Invalidity Pension receives the pass on the basis of the primary benefit they are paid, and not on the basis of their underlying medical condition. If the free travel scheme was to be extended to all people who had a disability and/or significant health issues, regardless of whether they receive a qualifying payment, a medical assessment process would be required for all such applications, significantly changing the nature of the scheme.
Any suggestion to change or review the eligibility criteria of the free travel scheme to include all people who had a disability and/or significant health issues, regardless of whether they receive a qualifying payment, would have significant costs, would require additional significant administrative processes to be put in place, and could only be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.