May Day brings free travel for NI's pensioners

Senior citizens across Northern Ireland will be able to travel completely free on all of Northern Ireland’s transport services from May Day.

The new SmartPass launched by the Minister for Regional Development Peter Robinson on Tuesday April 30 will mean senior citizens will be able to travel free of charge on Ulsterbus, Citybus and Northern Ireland Railway services from May 1st.

Mr Robinson said: “The DRD Concessionary Fare Scheme is one of the largest in the UK and over 120,000 Smart Passes have been issued to senior citizens and disabled war veterans.

“It has been a mammoth task to design and distribute the new pass and I congratulate Translink and its team of officials and contractors. I would like to pay special tribute to the Social Security Agency and the Veterans Agency who have co-operated with my Department to ensure a high take up of the SmartPass.”

The pass also provides free travel for people who are registered blind and half-fare travel for children up to the end of their compulsory schooling.

The Senior SmartPass is one of the products of a £6.3 million ticketing project that is being sponsored by the Department for Regional Development and is expected to be completed within the next year.

Mr Robinson added: “Once Wayfarer has installed new equipment on the railways later this year, Translink will have ticket technology and an integrated fares system which will be at the forefront of public transport services in Europe. It is fitting that our pensioners will be the first passengers to benefit. I hope that the SmartPass will open many new travel opportunities for them this summer.”

Mr Robinson said that the introduction of free travel is only the start of his plans to upgrade public transport for older people. (AMcE)

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