Free bus and train travel for over-60s protected

The free travel scheme for over 60s has been running since 2008
The free travel scheme for over 60s has been running since 2008

Almost £10 million has been allocated to provide free public transport for the elderly in Northern Ireland next year, the Regional Development Minister has said.

Funding to support bus and train travel for people aged over 60 had been under threat.

But Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has confirmed that the money will be found from within the budget.

DRD minister Danny Kennedy said: “I welcome the confirmation that £9.5 million towards the cost of the Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Scheme has been baselined within my department’s budget for next year.

“I have no plans to change the current scheme, but it is important to note that the £9.5 million only represents costs incurred this year and there are likely to be further increased costs next year, not provided for in the baseline.

“It is also important to recognise that the success of the Concessionary Fares Scheme depends on related subsidies to support the bus and rail network of services. The draft budget for my department will see that subsidy materially reduced to Translink and other bus operators next year.”

He said he had raised this issue with Mr Hamilton and hoped the Executive see the link between the issues in deciding on future budget allocations.

The concessionary travel scheme has been funded by the public purse and operated by Translink on its buses and trains since 2008.

It will cost £9.5 million to run next year.