There are no plans to roll back on the State’s free travel pass, it has been confirmed.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, was asked if there was any risk to the scheme.
“None. Absolutely, emphatically none. There is no threat whatsoever to free travel. No reductions,” Minister Ross said.
He was speaking at a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Transport and Sport that was looking at the implications of Brexit on Minister Ross’s portfolio as well as the current situation at Bus Éireann.
In reference to free travel with private transport operators the minister said: “It is open to all private operators to participate in this scheme.”
The minister added that meetings on this matter were ongoing between his department and the Department of Social Protection.
The privatisation of bus routes was also discussed at yesterday’s committee meeting.
Mr Ross assured that there was a commitment to “not expanding beyond 10% privatisation of routes.”
Both Minister Ross and Minister of State at his department, Patrick O’Donovan spoke about the impact of Brexit.
Mr Ross outlined “sector-specific concerns” relating to aviation, the maritime sector, road haulage and cross-border public transport services. “Our absolute preference is to maintain the closest possible trading relationship based on a level playing field between the UK and the EU, including Ireland,” Minister Ross said.
Mr O’Donovan said there had been a “softening” of tourists from Britain to Ireland in recent months.
“The decline in visitor numbers from Britain reflects feedback we’ve been getting from our Irish industry partners – some softening in bookings from Britain,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved