Public transport fares to be halved for 19- to 23-year-olds

Measure aims to encourage young people to take public transport over car use

Jack Horgan Jones of The Irish Times speaks to Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe TD and Michael McGrath TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, following their presentation of Budget 2022 to Dáil Éireann. Video: Bryan O’Brien

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People aged between 19 and 23 will get half-price travel on public transport from the middle of next year as part of a new measure introduced in Budget 2022.

Under the scheme, those in this age group will be eligible for half-price fares on intercity buses and trains, long-distance buses, local buses, the Luas and Dart.

The new measure is not confined to students and will be available to all young adults in this age category.

The scheme is due to start in the middle of 2022, and the anticipated annual cost is €25 million.

The move is designed to encourage greater use of public transport and so reduce carbon emissions, as required under the Government’s climate action plan.

The Department of Transport hopes the card used will be an update of the Leap Card which will include age identification, and which can be uploaded to a smart phone.

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Qualifying young people obtaining their photo ID card will be able to continue using it in following years.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said part of the reason the new scheme would not begin until mid 2022 was partly because of the need to update the technology and partly because of the current worldwide shortage of semiconductors.

He said the decisions to introduce the scheme came out of suggestions made to him and Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman by Comhairle na nÓg (Youth Council) representatives.

Commute

Recent census returns showed a high proportion of young people – including third-level students – relied on cars to commute to college and work.

The 2016 census found almost a quarter of all students drove to college in private cars. Although this is a reduction compared to 2011, the proportion of students using cars is still considered too high by the Government.

Politically, the move might also be a response to measures contained in the Sinn Féin manifesto and in its alternative budget where the party proposed free travel for all under-18s.

Measures to encourage young people to use public transport – including reductions in fares – were also included in the manifestos of the Coalition parties.

Students can currently avail of a 25 per cent reduction in fares on public transport, but it is not applied in an integrated way.

The aim behind a simple smart card to apply the discounts is to make it seamless for those in the 19-23 age group to switch from private to public transport as required.

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