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Govt plans fare reductions on commercial buses for 19 to 23-year-olds before return to college

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Earlier this year, young people aged between 19 and 23 saw a 50% fare cut on Public Service Obligation (PSO) transport services like Bus Éireann, DART or Luas with the introduction of the Young Adult Card (YAC).  However, currently the card doesn’t grant fare reductions on commercial public transport options, which many students use to commute to college on a daily basis.  In a response to a Parliamentary Question from Sinn Féin’s Ruairi Ó Murchú, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said that commercial bus operators were an “integral” part of the Irish public transport system, particularly parts of the country that aren’t covered by existing routes.  Ryan said that his Department intends to introduce savings on private operators before colleges reopen in September.

“The YAC was initially launched on PSO services on the 9th of May, and will be broadened to include commercial operators later this year, with the aim to have it in place before the recommencement of third level colleges,” Ryan said.  “This will not only promote modal shift in the transport sector among this age group but should also contribute towards a reduced reliance on private transport with associated benefit of transport emission savings.”  He said that it was technically challenging to introduce the YAC on commercial bus fleets, due to many not using Leap-enabled software.  “An array of various ticketing equipment is in use on fleet used by the commercial operators and needs to be catered for,” Ryan added.

A spokesperson for the National Transport Authority (NTA) said: “We are working with the commercial operators with the intention that the 50% fare can be offered by those operators who choose to do so at the beginning of September.”  In response, the USI Vice President for Campaigns Ross Boyd said that it was a positive development for students and young people.  “It’ll definitely have a big impact for students,” Boyd said, adding that it would be particularly useful for rural students who only have access to public transport through commercial operators.

While he welcomed the plan, he called on the Green Party to act on it’s 2020 election manifesto and implement free public transport for students, alongside widening the eligibility of the YAC to people aged 24.

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