Northern Ireland

SmartPass and SeniorSmartPass application fees from autumn for first time applicants

Free public transport to remain for people over 60

Buses in Belfast as a three-day strike action set to go ahead next week after public transport unions reject 5% offer. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN
SmartPass and SeniorSmartPass application fees from autumn but free public transport remains for over 60s (Mal McCann)

The introduction of application fees for Translink’s SmartPass and Senior SmartPass scheme have been announced by Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd.

Translink’s Senior SmartPass, for people over 65, will cost £12 and a SmartPass, for people aged 60 to 64, will cost £20, from the autumn. The fees apply for first time applications.

Speaking to The Irish News, a spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) said the fees were needed to “help protect the scheme and manage costs”.

The costs will cover the duration of the pass.

Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure John O’Dowd
Minister for Infrastructure John O’Dowd (Liam McBurney/PA)

SmartPasses can only be used in the north, whereas a Senior SmartPass gives over-65s access to free public transport throughout Ireland.

Mr O’Dowd also confirmed he was maintaining concessionary fares for people over 60 years of age, who are entitled to free travel on public transport, regardless of income.

He described both announcements as part of his focus “on protecting essential services, delivering positive change and addressing regional imbalance”.

“As a department, we have had to critically examine all aspects of spend. We have taken and will continue to take difficult decisions to priorities what we can deliver within our budget envelope, which means to protect concessionary fares a nominal fee will be introduced for first time applicants and 60 to 64 year olds applying for a SmartPass.”

The travel announcements followed a public consultation carried out last summer, which asked whether Translink’s concessionary travel rules should be changed, curtailed or extended.