30/09/2008

Pensioners Go 'On The Buses' - Free

Thousands of over 60s are ready to roll already as NI Transport Minister Conor Murphy today officially launched free travel on public transport for people aged 60 to 64.

He revealed that over 45,000 people have already applied for a 60+ SmartPass which means that from tomorrow, October 1st, they can travel free of charge, without any time restrictions, on nearly all scheduled bus and rail services here.

Speaking at the Europa Bus Centre in Belfast, the Minister said: "Tomorrow is the International Day of Older People, and so it is particularly appropriate that from then free travel in the north of Ireland is extended for the first time to people aged 60 to 64.

"I sincerely hope that this will prove to be a significant benefit to people - saving them money, encouraging more people on to public transport and increasing their opportunities in a variety of ways.

"I would wholeheartedly encourage all eligible passengers to take advantage of this opportunity and to apply for their SmartPass if they have not already done so."
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Mr Murphy said that the extension of free travel to people aged 60 and over is welcome and long overdue: "It demonstrates once again how a locally-elected and locally-accountable assembly can improve the lives of local people."

Catherine Mason, Group Chief Executive, NITHCo and Translink, said: "This is a huge milestone for 60-64 year olds and will have a positive impact on people's lives and finances in particular.

"With potentially 90,000 people now entitled to completely free public transport here for the first time, we are looking forward to giving passengers a comfortable, safe, reliable and hassle-free service across our bus and rail network.

"I would encourage those who have not yet applied for the 60 + SmartPass to do so and take advantage of the perks of free travel," she said.

To obtain free travel, passengers must obtain a 60+ SmartPass. An application form is available for a SmartPass by telephoning 0845 600 0049 or visiting www.sixtysmartpass.info

(BMcC)

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