Thursday, 26 January 2012
Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Code
Joan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
My Department has no plans to abolish free travel for old age pensioners. The current free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 90 private transport operators. In 2011 there were almost 730,000 people in receipt of free travel at a cost of €76 million.
I appreciate the important role that free travel plays in promoting social inclusion and preventing the isolation of elderly people. However, all of the schemes operated by my Department, including free travel, were examined in the context of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure and continue to be kept under review given the on-going need for savings. The Review continues to inform my decisions in relation to future spending. Funding for the free travel scheme was frozen by the previous Government at 2010 levels of expenditure as outlined in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 and the 2011 Budget. This cap was confirmed in the 2012 Budget.