Scheme 'a lifeline' for older people


The contribution that older people make to society because they have the free travel scheme is worth more than the cost of running the scheme, according to the older people’s charity Active Retirement Ireland.

Chief executive Maureen Kavanagh described the free travel scheme as a “lifeline” for older people and described the “enormous worry” among older people at possible cuts to or abolition of the scheme.

In September Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said she valued the scheme but would not rule out cuts to it in the budget.

Under the scheme, anyone aged 66 or over, as well as qualifying companions and people with disabilities, is entitled to free travel. Some 720,000 are entitled to it, with the number reaching 1.1 million people when other qualifying groups are included. It costs €77 million a year.

Ms Kavanagh said ARI members would be “extremely vulnerable” and at “real risk of social isolation” without the scheme.