Clarity needed on Travel Pass future – Crowe
Travel Pass Scheme which operates for pensioners and people with disabilities needs to be clarified and its funding ensured for the future. Crowe was responding to a controversial proposal that suggests that the travel pass should be limited to off-peak times.
A Government working group is reviewing the future of the free scheme,which allows up to 1.2 million people – or 25 per cent of the population – to travel for free on public and some private transport.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:"The current free travel scheme is an incredibly important support to tens of thousands of vulnerable people right across the country. It is vital support to a community with higher than average health concerns that needs access to transport in order to attend medical appointments but also to break down isolation, maintain a social life and independent living.
The social benefit of the scheme is obvious and is a practical measure that promotes inclusivity."A controversial proposal made to the working group reviewing the scheme is that the travel pass should be limited to off-peak times. This would negate many of the positive aspects of the scheme and doesn't appear to take into account the limited nature of travel schemes in many areas of the country."
The proposal to change the current system has created unnecessary fear and worry. If the Government agree that this is a backward step then the Minister for Transport needs to publicly say just that."Over the last five years funding for the scheme has stood still, but fares have gone up across the board to meet higher fuel and maintenance costs.
Public bus and rail funding has been cut on average by about 20% and semi state companies are struggling to maintain a quality service with extraordinarily low subsidies compared to our European counterparts.
"It is vital that public transport maintains its special place in society as a service provider for all the community especially those that are more vulnerable and isolated. The Government needs to end the speculation and bring greater clarity to the Free Travel Pass Scheme."