For Written Answer on : 23/11/2023
Question Number(s): 238 Question Reference(s): 51644/23
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she is aware that a fee is charged online to free travel pass holders when an allocation of bookings for free travel pass or valid ticket holders is fully booked on Irish Rail InterCity services; if such a fee is charged when a free travel pass holder is looking to purchase a ticket in similar circumstances in person; when such a fee was introduced; if the imposition of such a fee is compatible with the free travel scheme operated by her Department; her plans, if any, to remove the fee; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The Free Travel Scheme is available to all persons aged over 66 and those under age 66 on certain qualified payments, who are living legally and permanently in the State. The scheme permits those who are eligible to travel for free on most CIE public transport services, Local Link, LUAS and a range of transport services offered by some 75 private operators countrywide.
Under the Free Travel scheme, there is no requirement or impediment for transport operators to provide additional services such as a seat booking service. Some travel operators have introduced online booking services for customers who wish to guarantee their seat on a particular service. This is entirely a matter for the transport operator concerned.
Customers wishing to avail of Free Travel do not have to pre-book services with any operator participating in the Free Travel Scheme. They can continue to present on their preferred day of travel and avail of Free Travel using their Public Services Card.
It is open to any Free Travel customer who wants to be guaranteed a seat on a particular service to book their seat in advance, where a pre-booking facility exists. My Department has no control over the fee a transport company may charge for their seat pre-booking facility.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.