Free Travel Scheme will not be undermined – BREEN

September 1st, 2015 - Pat Breen

Clare Deputy and Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen T.D. has responded to claims from Fianna Fail regarding the future of the Free Travel Scheme.

“This issue arises every year ahead of the Budget and it is only scare mongering to suggest that the Free Travel Scheme will not be protected by this Government.

It was Fianna Fail who imposed a cap on funding for the Scheme under their National Recovery Plan, 2011-2014, however, in spite of the tight budgetary restrictions over the past few years, this Government has managed to protect the Scheme and we are committed to its full retention.”

The Scheme provides free travel for all people living in the State aged 66 years or over, as well those who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments. There are currently 828,000 people who have direct eligibility and €77 million is expended on the Scheme annually.

“An Interdepartmental Group was set up by the then Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in 2012, to examine and report on the current operation and future development of the Scheme. This was deemed necessary because there have been cases where various Bus Companies have departed from routes which have affected the free transport services and the Department was working the National Transport Authority to examine ways in which this could be addressed. This review is about the future development of the Scheme and poses no threat to this Governments support for the Scheme.

I am very much appreciate the importance of the Free Travel Scheme for our elderly and vulnerable persons and I have raised this with the Tanaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton T.D. on a number of occasions and she had assured me that the Free Travel Scheme will not be undermined in any way.”