The new discount fares for young people on public transport will not be available until the new year, the Transport Minister has told The Hard Shoulder.
People aged between 19 and 23-years-old are to get a 50% discount on public transport under new measures announced as part of Budget 2022 today.
A total of €25m was set aside for the new youth travel cards – alongside a €1.4bn package for upgrades to the public transport system.
Minister Ryan told Newstalk that the new cards will take time to roll out.
“It will take a few months,” he said. “We have to change the system so it can verify on the basis of age.
“In terms of the international challenge, even getting the chips for the Leap Cards, at the moment there is a semi-conductor shortage. Everything is taking several months and the supply lines internationally are tight.
“So, I am told it will take a number of months into the new year. It will take a number of months for the transport agencies to upgrade all their systems – but it is coming for sure.”
Habit for life
He said the plan will help strengthen young people’s connection with public transport.
“I think it will be a significant benefit as we come out of COVID,” he said. “It is a signal saying let’s get back to public transport.”
“It is for young workers and students. It is for anyone under 24 going to work and, from my perspective, we want to create the habit of a lifetime.
“It is towards active travel and public transport and a 50% reduction in fares is, to my mind, the right sort of incentive.”
In total, the Department of Transport was allocated €3.4bn in the budget with €1.8bn set aside for “cleaner, greener transport.”
The investment will support a number of new public transport projects including:
- 165 new electric buses in towns and cities across the country
- 24 new hybrid buses in urban areas
- 81 new buses in regional and rural areas
- A new fully electric town bus service for Athlone
Minister Ryan said increases to Vehicle Registration Tax due to come into force next year will not apply to electric cars.
“The increase will apply to the higher emitting cars in the top four brackets so there will continue to be a VRT exemption for electric cars for the next two years and there will continue to be a grant for people purchasing electric cars,” he said.
“That is a significant incentive. Also, the basic truth is electric cars are better vehicles. The fuel cost is fraction, the maintenance cost is a fraction and for anyone starting to drive them they are simply better cars.
“So, they come with a certainty that is not going to be reversed.”
He suggested that the number of electric cars that are now in the market mean electric cars are becoming affordable – when the grants and running costs are taken into consideration.”
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