Sinn Féin TD and member of the Public Accounts Committee Matt Carthy has said that government policy, as implemented by the National Transport Authority (NTA), will exclude rural young people from the reduced bus fares announced by government in the Budget.
The Cavan/Monaghan TD was speaking following an appearance of the NTA before the Oireachtas Committee on Public Accounts on Thursday.
Teachta Carthy said:
“The government’s Budget day announcement of reduced public transport fares for young people aged 19-23 was essentially a last-minute token measure designed to infer that something was being delivered for climate action other than increased taxes.
“When private bus operators raised concerns that they would be unable to participate in the scheme, government TDs were quick to re-assure them that this would not be the case.
“But the NTA have confirmed to the Public Accounts Committee that passengers on private operators will, in fact, be left behind.
“While it was confirmed that the intention is to introduce the new fares by June on public operators, commercial operators will be left waiting for an unspecified length of time.
“This represents a fundamental unfairness. Those young people who use private operators are predominately from rural communities. Their public transport options are already extremely limited.
“Many students and young workers are forced to travel long distances because of housing costs in their places of study or work. Rural people already pay more for a poorer public transport service – apparently it is now government policy to compound this.
“This crux of this issue relates to the ticketing system of private operators – solutions are available, it simply requires imagination and creativity by government and NTA.
“Reduced fares for young people is a positive move – but it cannot be discriminatory. The Minister for Transport must immediately confirm that all young passengers will be entitled to the reduced fares on the same basis and at the same time. He must also outline how this will be delivered by all operators, including private operators.”