Call for 50% off bus fares for students going to Derry

A Donegal-born senator has called for half price public transport fares to be made available to young people from the south who attend college in Derry.

Fianna Fáil Senator Robbie Gallagher called for a new young adult card scheme that affords students a 50 per cent reduction to be broadened.

The scheme was originally rolled-out for Public Service Obligation (PSO) in May and was extended to commercial bus services at the start of September.

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However, Senator Gallagher said: “There are many students who travel up north to go to college in places such as Belfast and Derry.

Donegal-born senator calls for 50% off bus fares for students going to Derry

"Unfortunately, the scheme does not cover them either. Therefore, I have two asks: first, that the scheme be extended so 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds will also be able to avail of the 50 per cent reduction; and second, that the Minister of State consider allowing the students who travel up north for their education to be included in the scheme.”

The Minister of State for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, replied: “I am happy to clarify that I have been advised that the National Transport Authority (NTA) is widening the age rules of the scheme to allow 16-, 17-, and 18-year-old students in third level education to apply for the student Leap card so they can also avail of the 50% discount.

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"This is in line with the approach taken with mature students in full-time third level education.

“On Senator Gallagher's question on students who travel to the North, the issue of the Border counties is one we can raise with the NTA on foot of this Commencement debate.”

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Deputy Noonan said that the scheme was part of the government’s efforts to develop a ‘cost-efficient public transport sector, including affordable and accessible public transport services’, which, he said, was ‘vital to a functioning economy’.

The young adult card scheme is designed to incentivise more young people to use public transport.

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The 50 per cent fares are being made available all services, including city, intercity and rural services. Mature students in full-time education are also included in the scheme, as are eligible visitors to Ireland within the young adult age cohort, said Deputy Noonan.