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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 28 March, 2020

NTA says it would like to expand free public transport for kids after 'phenomenal' summer uptake

Irish Rail, Luas, Bus Eireann and Go Ahead all saw child journey’s jump by over 100% during Kids Go Free August initiative.

TD Kate O'Connell has said kids should get free public transport.
TD Kate O'Connell has said kids should get free public transport.

MORE FREE PUBLIC transport travel for kids that use a Leap card could be on the way. 

The National Transport Authority has said the Kids Go Free initiative, which gives children free travel during some weeks of the summer was a “phenomenal” success this year.

The period at which kids got free travel on public transport increased this year, from two weeks to four weeks in the month of August. 

Growth in children travelling jumped massively across all modes of transport, with Irish Rail up 131%, Luas up 118%, Go Ahead bus travel up 110% and Bus Eireann up 137%, 

Tim Gaston, Director General for Public Services with the NTA said such figures show the “huge increase in the number of children travelling in comparison to the previous four-week period”.

He said there was no doubt that there was also more adult travel during that period.

“What we are really trying to do more than anything else is establish that travel, so if children use public transport the thought is they will continue to use it,” he told an Oireachtas committee this week

He said the NTA would like to see the campaign expand in the future. 

Leap card sales are higher than they have ever been, said Gaston, who said the use of Leap card is upward only at the present time.

Free public transport 

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell welcomed the success of the Kids Go Free campaign stating that it is about creating a “cultural change around public transport” and about getting people out of their car.

“If you don’t foster that in children they’re not going to be ferried around in a car till they’re 18 and then suddenly hop on a bus,” she said. 

While O’Connell called for the scheme to be expanded next summer, she has also said that, ultimately, she wants all children to get free travel, as it can be a huge cost burden on families.

If there’s no provision for that in terms of resources, she said free travel for certain periods of the day should be considered. 

“We need to make public transport more accessible, reliable and efficient – otherwise people will just stay in their cars,” she said. 

O’Connell said if school-going children get free transport, it is a huge incentive for parents to ditch the car, as this summers journey figures show. 

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