Minister dismisses suggestion for pensioners to use travel pass in off-peak hours

Up to 10% of journeys at peak times are by people using travel passes

Minister dismisses suggestion for pensioners to use travel pass in off-peak hours

An elderly women boards a Luas tram in Dublin city centre | Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

The Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has dismissed a suggestion that pensioners could be stopped from using free travel passes during rush hour.

A senior official in the Department of Finance said it could free up space on packed trains and buses.

Up to 10% of journeys at peak times are by people using their passes.

This amounts to around 10,700 passengers in Dublin.

Some 900,000 people in Ireland are currently entitled to free travel.

But Minister Donohoe said the scheme will not change.

"The free travel scheme will not be changing - it plays a very valuable role for our citizens and in supporting our public transport companies".

Age Action is warning that older people should not be treated like a problem.

Gerard Scully from Age Action said older have earned the right to travel.

"To dismiss older people and to see older people as a problem... it reflects a societal attitude towards older people that (they) don't value older people, don't value the contribution they have made in the past and are continuing to make".

"The suggestion that older people are stopping younger people going to work is not tenable.

"I mean I don't think there's that many older people travelling at peak times to actually be a problem - maybe we need more buses".

The director of consumer affairs at the AA, Conor Faughnan, said people are not the problem.

"Why somebody who's not paying a fare on the bus (is) somehow less important than somebody who is; the fare system on buses is a problem as well.

"Ultimately, the function of public transport is to move the public around - not to make a profit, not to pull money into the driver's farebox.

"I think at the moment the fare system is too expensive and too complicated: its byzantine trying to figure out what the cost is of a bus trip from one place to another".