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Concessionary Fares Scheme “SmartPass” consultation ending 24 August

Published on 09 August 2023 11:00 AM

Age NI recommends NO CHANGE to current SmartPass

The Department for Infrastructure’s consultation on Northern Ireland’s concessionary fares scheme closes on 24 August. Age NI is urging older people to have their say on this important issue to urge that we keep the SmartPass!

This is a consultation on possible changes to the Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Scheme, which aims to promote accessible public transport for those most at risk of social exclusion. It currently allows older people (60+) and some disabled people to travel for free, or at a discounted rate using a SmartPass. Changes being considered include raising the age of eligibility for concessionary fares to either 65 or State Pension age.

Age NI’s response to this consultation will be to recommend

  • no change to the current scheme (Option 1A)
  • retain the SmartPass and
  • leave the eligibility rules as they are now.

Age NI does not support Options 2, 3, or 4, proposing to limit the use of the SmartPass to off-peak travel and bus travel only, and introducing fees for application, renewal and replacement of the SmartPass.

Retention of the SmartPass is a subject which features regularly in Age NI’s conversations with older people. In recent years it has been identified as a priority in our surveys of the issues which matter most to older people (Lived Experience); it was the subject of a Ministerial question at the 2021 Pensioners’ Parliament; and it featured in our Act4Age NI Assembly election manifesto in 2022.

It is not only highly valued, but clearly plays a key role in the health and wellbeing of older people, and their connection to each other, to services and to the community. It also adds value to other Departments’ policies and practices from health and social care to loneliness and Age Friendly communities.

Age NI's response to the consultation will reflect the significant value of the SmartPass, to the older people who use it regularly as well as to the effective implementation of Government policies. We’ll share the views and words expressed clearly and passionately by older people in our most recent Lived Experience Survey (summer 2023).

When asked about the importance transport and travel 74% of older people told us that support with transport and travel is Absolutely Essential and a further 20% regard it as Very Important.

Here are the words of some survey respondents…

"As a non-driver with mobility issues I rely on my bus pass to get me out and about.  I …would be confined to my house staring at the four walls."

"I heavily rely on my bus pass to visit my sister who is my only surviving relative and is housebound... without it the cost would restrict my ability to visit."

"Transport is a vital gateway to other services so we need to ensure the SmartPass doesn't change."

"Travel pass is an essential lifeline to the outside world.”

"Keep the travel pass for 60+ people ...will save lives."

"I really treasure my bus pass... I live in a rural area."


Respond to the consultation here

Read Age NI's full response to the Department of Infrastructure here


Last updated: Aug 16 2023

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