Wednesday 24 January 2018

Age Action warns on erosion of free travel scheme

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

PENSIONERS' entitlements to free travel are being whittled away by government cutbacks, Age Action Ireland has warned.

This comes after the Irish Independent discovered that a number of new bus routes have been kept out of the Government's free travel scheme.

Elderly passengers travelling on Aircoach's new service launched last week from Ballinteer in south Dublin to the airport will have to pay.

The Government is refusing to let them use their bus passes on it, because spending on the free travel scheme has been capped at 2010 levels.

Aircoach said that it had applied to join the scheme for its new route in March, but was turned down.

And the Department of Social Protection confirmed that a number of other routes and applications for increased payments under the free travel scheme have been refused.

However it could not disclose details of which other routes had been excluded, saying it was commercially sensitive information relating to private operators.

Age Action Ireland said it was concerned at this latest move, which comes on top of the recent removal of pensioners' right to a free passport.

"We see entitlements being whittled away," said spokesman Eamon Timmins.

Bus Eireann, Irish Rail and Dublin Bus said they were not aware of any of their routes being excluded.

The free travel scheme costs the State around €600m a year.

Irish Independent

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