Mallon signals her intention to seek approval to extend the Concessionary Fares Scheme

Date published: 26 January 2022

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has signalled her intention to extend the Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Scheme noting the current budget consultation and the proposal for associated ring-fenced funding.

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The current Scheme provides free and half fare travel on public transport, via a SmartPass, for several groups of people, including children, senior citizens and some people with disabilities.

Minister Mallon wishes to provide free travel for people with disabilities who currently pay half fare and to widen the range of services facilitating concessionary fares by extending the Scheme to new operators who have already indicated or expressed an interest in joining. 

Minister Mallon said: 

“Concessionary travel connects people and opportunities through our public transport network. Improving access to public transport also helps to protect the environment by encouraging more people to travel sustainably and plays a critical role in building a socially just society.  I am very aware from my engagement with older people and those with a disability of the value they place on concessionary travel and the benefits it brings to their lives. For me this is not just an economic, societal and environmental  issue, it is a social justice issue too and I am keen to see more people benefit.  

“Extending the scheme would facilitate greater choice in how people travel and the range of routes they can travel on.  This in turn can help reduce social isolation and support people accessing goods and services along with economic and educational opportunities.

“For me Government is all about people and specifically acting to support those who need additional assistance. I have listened to the disability sector and I want to ensure that our public transport system better serves and better supports our disabled citizens across the north. That is why I am taking this important work forward.

“I intend to follow all necessary processes to extend the Scheme, including engaging with my Executive colleagues on the value of the proposed extensions to the Concessionary Fares Scheme and the necessary steps required to implement them.”

This afternoon, the Minister met with the Smartpass Equality Campaign (SPEC).  Speaking after that meeting Brian Murray of SPEC said:  ”I welcome the work Minister Mallon is taking forward to support people with disabilities and help ensure their full participation in society. I look forward to further engagement on this issue.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes to editors: 

  1. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office at: press.office@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk.
  2. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hour’s service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  3. Follow the Department on Twitter @deptinfra and on Facebook @DepartmentforInfrastructure

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