More than €17m in refunds for public transport passes paid out

Holders of annual tax-saver tickets have until December 31st to apply for their money back

The National Transport Authority accepts many commuters are continuing to pay for their cards through automatic salary deductions while working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Transport Authority accepts many commuters are continuing to pay for their cards through automatic salary deductions while working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Commuters who use annual tax-saver Leap cards on public transport have until the end of the year to claim refunds stretching back to April, the National Transport Authority has confirmed.

The authority accepts that many commuters are continuing to pay for their cards through automatic salary deductions even though they have been working from home for months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some 17,000 annual tax-saver tickets to the value of more than €17 million had been refunded up until November 25th, the latest date for which figures were available.

The authority is offering extensions to the validity of the cards for months missed due to travel restrictions as well as cash refunds where requested by commuters and applied for through their employers’ schemes.

For those who do not apply for a cash refund, their cards will be extended for the amount of time they have been unused since April 1st.

Backdated

Refunds are also backdated to April, which means the €17 million already refunded was spread over less than eight months. On a pro-rata basis this would suggest demand for refunds is likely to amount to about €19 million by December 31st. However, it could be considerably more than that as commuters move to address the issue before the end of the year.

The refunds will be paid with the aid of an increase in subsidy provided by the exchequer through the Department of Transport. The exchequer is also undertaking to cover the shortfall in fares collected due to the pandemic.

According to the authority, Dublin Bus processed 3,769 applications for refunds by November 25th, Irish Rail processed 10,228, Bus Éireann processed 342 and Luas processed 2,800. The amounts involved were €3.9 million in relation to Dublin Bus, €11.3 million for Irish Rail, €528,411 for Bus Éireann and €1.5 million for Luas.

Incentive

Annual tax-saver Leap cards incentivise people to use public transport to travel to and from work with the cost being deducted directly from their gross salary. The deduction means the employee pays for the ticket out of untaxed earnings, effectively getting a 28.5 per cent or 52 per cent discount.

For example, an annual ticket for Dublin Bus costs €1,450. To add Luas travel to the ticket brings the price up to €1,800. An annual Dart ticket is €1,450 while adding Luas would bring it up to €1,800. Multiple combinations of public travel modes are also available in other cities.

In August, the National Transport Authority said customers who have an annual tax-saver ticket for the public transport services provided by Dublin Bus, Luas, Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann and Go-Ahead Ireland would have their tickets extended for a period of six months.

The authority said this effectively gives customers back the portion of the ticket that they could not use as a result of the Government’s Covid-19-related travel restrictions and “acknowledges the changes in travel and work that have come about since”.

It said where the customer wishes to receive a refund rather than avail of the extension, it is open to them to make such a request via their employer under existing terms and conditions. A spokesman confirmed, however, that the cut-off point to opt for a refund instead of an automatic extension is December 31st.

These measures do not apply to customers of commercial bus operators who are making their own arrangements.