Louth senator calls for public transport discounts for private bus operators
Commuters who use private bus operators are at a severe disadvantage as they are not able to avail of the 20% discount on public transport or the 50% discount on the Youth Travel Card, according to Louth senator, John McGahon.
The government introduced an average reduction of 20% on Taxsaver fares on all subsidised public transport services, the rollout of which began in April and which is set to last until the end of 2022. It is also introducing the Young Adult Card in May, which will reduce fares for young people under 24 by a further average 50%. Speaking about the discrepancy between the discounts available to those who use public and private operators, Senator McGahon said, “the Youth Travel Card will halve the cost of travel on public transport for those between the ages of 17 and 23 and is set to come into effect on May 9th.
“However, this discount will not be able to be enjoyed by all. A good example of the discrepancy can be seen in my own county of Louth. Matthews Coaches have been operating for almost 20 years providing an excellent service to commuters from Dundalk, Drogheda and Bettystown. A return ticket from Dundalk to Dublin costs €17 whereas the same ticket on Bus Eireann costs €11. Once the 50% reduction is introduced, a Bus Eireann ticket will cost €5.50, but the Matthews Coaches ticket will remain at €17.
Senator McGahon continued, "We need to provide competition in an open market to provide the best outcomes for consumers but introducing one discount for public and not private operators is not open competition. It is providing a substantial financial advantage to public sector operators compared to the private sector. I have spoken with Minister Eamon Ryan’s Department and they have confirmed that they intend to introduce the 50% discount for private bus operators also but cannot provide a date as to when this introduction will take please.
He added, “I think it is vital we provide clarity on this issue as soon as possible by confirming an introduction date for the discounts on private transport. This is very significant for the thousands of people who rely on private operators every day and clarity will allow people to make decisions, based on fares prices about future commuting plans.”
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