Government aim to curb fraud in use of pensioners' travel pass
The Government is moving to curb fraud in the use of the pensioners' free travel pass, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has said.
Ms Burton told the Dail that the Government had utterly no intention of curtailing the free public transport entitlement for retired people which has been available in this country since 1967.
She told Fianna Fail's welfare spokesman, Willie O'Dea, that the scheme which extends to 1.2 million pensioners and costs €77m per year will not be changed.
"The free travel pass is safe," she said.
The Minister insisted there would be no changes but she said that a "small amount of fraud" in the scheme - with people using passes that were not theirs - had to be stopped. She said the department was now introducing new secure welfare card with photographic identity and other details.
Ms Burton said almost 200,000 of these secure cards had been allocated and this would continue.
Mr O'Dea said 90 private bus operators who were participating in free travel were threatening to withdraw because it was not well-paid enough.
The Minister said talks were under way to deal with this and other issues involving public transport companies as part of a general review.