Fine Gael Kildare South TD and Minister Martin Heydon is seeking more flexibility in commuter bus and rail tickets to match new blended work arrangements as many Kildare commuters return to the office under more flexible working arrangements.
Minister Heydon said: “As many Kildare commuters have now returned to work under more flexible working arrangements, we also need to have more flexible commuting options available for them. At present the Tax Saver option is limited to weekly or monthly tickets which does not make sense if it is not being used 5 days a week. I know from speaking to many constituents that the pandemic and lockdown periods changed common perceptions around commuting to and from work and travel arrangements now need to match that.
“I raised the need for flexibility in the structure of tax saver tickets with the NTA who have responsibility for the regulation of fares. The NTA have recognised the need for more flexible travel arrangements and they have advised me that they are “actively engaged on the development of a very flexible TaxSaver ticketing product suitable for occasional use in response to the change in public transport usage as a result of Covid-19.”
“They are currently working on technical aspects of the new product and are in discussions with government departments on the legislative aspects. The technical work is continuing, with the aim of being able to launch the product either at the end of Q1 or early Q2 2022.
“The NTA is currently examining options for a flexible ticket which would be modelled on an annual ticket, for example a ticket that provides for 100 days of travel over a 12-month period, to fit in with current tax legislation. Work is ongoing to clarify if this will comply with current legislation or if legislative amendments will be required. We need a decision on this very soon, as if a legislative amendment is required we need to move on it as soon as possible.
“The important thing is that while the legislative aspects are being resolved, the NTA is progressing with the technical implementation of the flexi tickets, as we must keep up the momentum on this.
“People are increasingly returning to the office, and we can’t expect them to pay the prices of a monthly or annual ticket when they may only be in the office for two or three days a week,” concluded Minister Heydon.