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Leo Varadkar rejects proposal to provide unlimited public transport for €9 per month

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Leo Varadkar on a hybrid electric bus (Niall Carson/PA)

Leo Varadkar on a hybrid electric bus (Niall Carson/PA)

Leo Varadkar on a hybrid electric bus (Niall Carson/PA)

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has rejected a proposal to give everyone unlimited access to public transport for €9 per month.

Mr Varadkar told Labour leader, Ivana Bacik, that the plan which she was proposing was briefly introduced in Germany but soon abandoned by the Berlin government mainly due to cost.

The Labour leader urged Mr Varadkar to introduce a huge Budget package next Tuesday to help cushion people against spiralling living costs.

Ms Bacik said her own party’s priorities included radical proposals to cap childcare costs, the German idea of a €9 monthly ticket giving unlimited public transport access, and free GP care to everybody aged under 18.

Replying the Fine Gael leader and Tánaiste said he looked forward to studying Labour’s Budget proposals and taking some of these on board. But he utterly rejected the €9 monthly public transport ticket – stressing lower fares instead.

“That was done in Germany. What you didn’t mention was that it’s been abandoned by Germany,” Mr Varadkar said. He said the German government did not continue with the scheme for a number of reasons including its affordability and overcrowded facilities.

“What we have done is reduce public transport fares by 30pc with good results,” the Tánaiste added. He said the Government would probably continue with low fares via next Tuesday’s Budget package.

In exchanges with Sinn Féin's finance spokesman, Pearse Doherty, and People Before Profit TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, Mr Varadkar said Ireland’s cost of living was too high, especially when compared with similar countries in northern Europe.

The Tánaiste said priority areas will be cutting childcare costs, better healthcare and public transport.

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