Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has dismissed a suggestion that Travel Pass holders be banned from using public transport during the rush hour.

The Sinn Féin TD was responding to reports that the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt, floated an idea to ban holders of the free travel pass from public transport during rush hour.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“This suggestion is not helpful and should be dismissed by legislators and commuters who use the bus and rail services.

“Public transport isn’t at capacity because of free travel pass holders but it is overcrowded at times because of a lack of investment and poor planning by successive governments.

“These latest remarks are not new but are indicative of an increasingly worrying trend that blames everyone and anyone but leaves the real culprits, consecutive Transport Ministers, out of the blame game.

“They have left our bus and rail semi states in precarious financial positions, and this is reflected in uneven and patchy public transport services.

“Poor planning and a lack of investment in infrastructure for decades in Dublin has led to significant overcrowding on public transport in the city.

“Many commentators fail to or ignore the fact that public transport has responsibilities and is a public service. It’s not about profit, and it’s certainly not about banning people who might not be deemed important enough by Mr Watt to travel during rush hour. Every member of the public regardless of their card should be entitled to make use of that service.

“They also appear to be unaware or oblivious of the pressures that senior citizens experience in Irish society. The elderly and people with disabilities are groups that are at risk of isolation and poverty. They have to attend appointments and other engagements at the same time as everyone else.

“This week research from the Healthy and Positive Ageing Initiative showed that almost a third of all senior citizens have difficulties accessing public transport, with it rising up to 68% in rural areas

“Surely its time that officials like Mr Watt should focusing their attention on this reality and work towards greater investment in public transport, and leave hard pressed travel pass holders alone.”