11/12/2001

Proposal to ensure access to free transport for war disabled

Regional Development Minister, Peter Robinson has announced he intends to introduce free travel for War Disabled Pensioners under 65 years old.

Mr Robinson made his comments during Department for Regional Development questions, at the Assembly, in reply to a question on the number of passes issued since the introduction of free travel for senior citizens at the beginning of October.

Speaking on Monday December 10 Mr Robinson said: “Following the successful introduction of my free travel initiative for senior citizens, I am keen to widen the Concessionary Fares Scheme further to include War Disabled Pensioners under 65.

“They have always been regarded as an especially deserving group in Northern Ireland and I have written to the Finance Minister seeking his agreement for my proposal that they be eligible for free travel alongside registered blind people and senior citizens.”

At present there are about 2,500 War Disabled Pensioners in Northern Ireland who would fall into this category. Mr Robinson also revealed that 12,621 senior citizen concession passes were issued since the free travel scheme was introduced since October this year.

The Minister said: “Preliminary figures show that the number of older people travelling since the introduction of free travel has increased by 28 per cent on Ulsterbus, around 35 per cent on Northern Ireland Railways and almost 50 per cent on Citybus.

“I am pleased to report the positive response that my free travel initiative has received. It is enabling many older people to enjoy the benefits of enhanced mobility and is making an important contribution towards addressing social needs in the community.” (AMcE)

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