TSSA today (Thursday) condemned proposals by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to increase the age of concessionary travel in Northern Ireland.
The Department for Infrastructure is seeking views on changes to the Department’s policy on free and discounted fares on public transport under the Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Scheme.
The Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Scheme (the scheme) exists to provide free and discounted travel for older and disabled people. The DfI claims that the scheme has become more expensive due to people living longer and the cost of bus fares increasing. It is therefore consulting on proposals to reduce the costs of the scheme, including raising the eligibility age from 60 to 65.
TSSA argues that without the free travel, older passengers would be forced back into their cars as a cheaper alternative. This would be bad news for road users, and for the environment.
TSSA Organiser Gary Kelly said, “This is a wrong-headed and short-sighted proposal by the Department for Infrastructure. Cutting free transport for 60 – 64 year olds would simply put more pressure on other areas of Ireland’s infrastructure, as car usage would go up. That’s on top of the environmental damage that more cars on the roads would cause in the form of air pollution and greenhouse gases.
“This is another example of a poor investment and public transport strategy in Northern Ireland, like last month’s proposals to close ticket offices across the rail network. It’s clear that if we want to achieve Northern Ireland’s targe of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 we need to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport but these proposals will have the opposite effect.
“It’s important that everyone gets involved in the DfI’s consultation and sends the strongest possible message to the government – we don’t want any reductions to the Concessionary Fares Scheme!”
Read the Northern Irish Department for Infrastructure's Changes to Concessionary Fares Proposal.
Notes to Editors
TSSA is an independent trade union for the transport and travel industries. We have thousands of members right across the UK and Ireland, working for the railways and associated companies, as well as ferries, bus services and the travel trade.