Friday 23 August 2019

'Give us free transport' say students, as children travel free for July

Children will be able to travel on the Luas for free until July 28
Children will be able to travel on the Luas for free until July 28

Niamh Lynch

Children will be able to travel for free on public transport for the month of July as part of a new initiative by the National Transport Authority.

Child Leap Card holders will not be charged until July 28 on all Dublin Bus, Luas, DART and selected Bus Éireann and Irish Rail services. 

The National Transport Authority estimates that the “Kids Go Free” promotion will facilitate over a million free trips for children.

However, the union representing secondary school students has called for the scheme to be introduced for both second and third level students on a year-round basis.

Eric Ehigie, the Equality Officer of the Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU) said: “[The scheme] should go on day-to-day. When students are travelling around, from second or third level, transport is a big thing for them and it should be free in Dublin.”

“The government might take a slight economic hit but if you were to issue a year-round scheme, for second and third level students, they’re travelling a lot to gain a profession and help them acquire money that will go back into the economy in the long term.”

Ehigie also pointed to the unavailability of the scheme for rural children. “It is a great idea but there are imperfections in the scheme. I’m from Longford and I can't partake or reap the rewards of the scheme. There are approximately 650 outlets for Leap cards but they’re all based in Waterford, Limerick, Galway, Cork and Dublin and this needs to change.” 

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the National Transport Authority said the initiative aims to “encourage young people and families to get into the habit of using public transport and in the future see it as a viable option. It’s also an opportunity to encourage young people to get out and about, to do family, go to the beach and things like that.” 

The initiative, which has been in place since 2016, was increased in length from two weeks to one month on the back of its previous success. 

The spokesperson said of its continuation, “At the end of July, we’ll see how successful it is. We will certainly be monitoring [the scheme] and we will have a clear picture at the end of the month. It has worked well in previous years and is something we would like to continue on in the future.”

Both the ISSU and the NTA highlighted the environmental benefits of the scheme, with the NTA spokesperson pointing to a “greater awareness around the issues of climate change” and noting that the initiative gives young people “the opportunity to act in a way that is now beneficial to the environment”.

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