A LOCAL MLA has described the availability of free public transportation for pensioners as ‘a lifeline’.
Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson was responding to constituents who had contacted her office following recent media speculation following speculation that this scheme may be coming under review and that so-called ‘better off pensioners’ could, as a result of any such review lose their entitlement to travel free on public busses and trains.
She said, “The people who have contacted my office are deeply concerned about their rights to free travel being removed from them.
Having worked all their lives and made provision for their retirement they roundly resent the implication that they be described as ‘better off pensioners’ and therefore as a result could lose their entitlement to travel free on public transport.
“Not only do our local pensioners benefit from the free travel fare, they also save in terms of the taxi fare or fuel which they would have incurred as a result of travelling independently.” Said the Upper Bann UUP MLA “Free public transport for pensioners is therefore kinder to the environment, of greater economic benefit to pensioners than the remitted fare alone, encourages the increased usage of our public transportation network and leads to greater social integration of pensioners into the community.”
The Ulster Unionist Party have reiterated their commitment to retaining the principle of free public transport following comments from the Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland which suggested that the practice of free travel for pensioners could end.
In conclusion Mrs Dobson said “I have written to Minister McCausland on behalf of those constituents urging him to explain his comments.”