Consultation on changes to the Concessionary Fares Scheme

Consultation opened on 01 June 2023. Closing date 24 August 2023.


• The Department for Infrastructure’s consultation on proposed changes to the eligibility criteria for the NI Concessionary Fares Scheme closed on 24 August 2023.
• Having considered the outcome of the public consultation, the Minister intends to make no changes to the age eligibility for the Scheme. All SmartPass holders will also continue to be able to travel on both bus and rail at any time of the day. However, in order to help protect the Scheme and manage costs the Minister intends to introduce fees for those applying for, renewing or replacing their SmartPass. Further detail on the proposed fees and exemptions that may apply are set out in the section below.
• As a result of the financial pressures facing the Department the Minister is not in a position to extend the half-fare concession to free travel, introduce companion travel, extend the eligibility criteria for those with disabilities, or provide free travel for asylum seekers this year but will reconsider introduction of these options in the future if the financial position allows.
• The Minister will however remove the three-month residency condition and extend the list of accepted documentation to prove residency. This will help make the Scheme more accessible to those who are already eligible.
• These decisions are subject to the consultation on the EQIA on the budget for DfI for 2024/25, which is available on the Department’s website or at the link at the bottom of the page. Once the Minister has made his final decisions on changes to the Scheme, the Draft Stage 6 report (below) will be updated with any new evidence from the draft Budget EQIA and published alongside the Consultation Outcomes Report.


Consultation description

Latest news (Updated 13th June 2024)

  • Subject to the EQIA consultation on the DfI Budget for 2024/25, the Minister intends to introduce an application fee for 60-64 year olds and first-time Senior SmartPass applicants in Autumn this year.
  • At this stage, we anticipate that the fee for 60-64 year olds will be around £20, with a reduced fee of around £12 for Senior SmartPass applicants (those over 65). The Minister intends to waive the application fee completely for some groups, such as disabled people applying for a Half Fare SmartPass, those Registered Blind and War Disabled Pensioners.  
  • The Minister also intends to introduce renewal fees for Senior SmartPasses and replacement fees for all categories of pass, but these will only be introduced when the SmartPass application process moves online. The fee will be determined at that stage.
  • A draft Stage 6 report has been prepared, taking account of the responses to the public consultation, and this can be accessed in the Documents section above. This details the equality impacts of the SmartPass fee, based on engagement and consultation to date.
  • Any further comments or information in relation to the impact of the SmartPass fee on Section 75 groups, can be provided through the consultation on the draft EQIA on the DfI Budget 2024/25. The link to the EQIA on the budget consultation  and details on how it can be found is here:
  • Following the budget consultation, the Minister will consider this decision and if confirmed, officials will work with Translink to determine the exact fee each group will be required to pay and the timeframe for implementation.
  • While the Minister will continue to consider the EQIA findings when making his decision whether to introduce the fees (and the exact fee to be paid), any new or revised policy to implement the decision will be separately subject to screening/EQIA.  This will include the systems and processes that might be put in place regarding how people apply for, replace or renew passes.

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