Thursday, 23 March 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
232. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs the plans, if any, he has to issue travel vouchers in place of the free travel pass in view of the fact that persons in rural areas entitled to free travel have no access to transport or in some cases transport is only available on Fridays; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8638/00]
Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): The free travel scheme provides free travel on a range of services provided by the CIE group of companies as well as on the services provided by over 70 private transport operators. The vast majority of these private contractors operate in rural areas. My Department is always willing to consider further applications from licensed private transport operators who may wish to participate in the free travel scheme.
As the Deputy is aware, a fundamental review of the free schemes of this Department is nearing completion and will be published shortly by the Policy Institute, Trinity College Dublin, in the Studies in Public Policy series. The issue raised by the Deputy is examined in the review.
In anticipation of the review findings, I announced two specific measures in budget 2000. These are the extension of the free schemes to all persons aged 75 years and over, regardless of their income and household composition and the extension of the free electricity allowance and free television licence to all carers in receipt of the carer's allowance and to carers who are caring for people in receipt of constant attendance or prescribed relatives allowance. Both of these measures will be implemented from October 2000 at an estimated full year cost of £6 million.
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