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Unread 15-03-2013, 08:23   #1
Mark Gleeson
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Default [article] Free travel payment based on 1973 survey, committee hears

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Originally Posted by Irish Times
Annual payments of some € 61m to CIÉ for the State’s free travel scheme is based on a passenger estimate from 1973, the secretary general of the Department of Social Protection said today.
Niamh O’Donoghue was speaking at the examination of her department’s accounts by the Public Accounts Committee.
Committee chairman John McGuinness expressed shock at learning of the 30 year lag in data during the meeting.
Ms O’Donoghue told the committee that the department had “absolute figures” on eligibility, in that 1.1m people that qualify for the scheme.
Mr McGuinness asked if she was satisfied it was value for money.
The benefits available for people on the free travel and the number of beneficiaries had increased at no cost, she said. CIÉ also believed they were being underpaid, she added.
“I am shocked you continue pay the company money and do not know the numbers” that use it, Mr McGuinness said.
The public services card being introduced by the Department would allow usage to be monitored, she said..
© http://www.irishtimes.com/news/free-...ears-1.1326052
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Unread 15-03-2013, 12:21   #2
Colm Moore
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Maybe, just maybe, I'm wrong, but wasn't 1973 a total of 40 years ago - or have I been over-estimating my age all these years?
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Unread 15-03-2013, 15:44   #3
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The staggering thing here is that 25% of the country's population gets their travel needs provided for 61 million euro. At the rate of an annual "All Service" pass (€5340.00), this would actually cost €5.8 billion!

All right, so a 50% bulk discount is somewhat fair - what do Eircom charge the government for the roughly 25% of all landlines paid for by the state?

But at that rate, all of Irish Rail's money worries would be over. We would have TGVs to Westport on that sort of budget.
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Unread 15-03-2013, 15:48   #4
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Its true that if Irish Rail got even 75% of the fares due their financial troubles would be over

Those with long memories will recall that the Luas was not going to accept the free travel pass and due to howls of complaint a deal was done

I'm guessing the RPA cut a far more realistic deal since they had leverage at the time
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Unread 16-03-2013, 01:07   #5
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http://www.irishexaminer.com/breakin...se-588072.html
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Unread 16-03-2013, 18:06   #6
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They've been threatening to clamp down on it since two Popes ago. As long as the situation persists that the passes are crap bits of paper with no general obligation to have a photo ID, anyone can use most passes, even before you start on with the counterfeit passes in circulation.

The powers that be simply need to declare that as of 31 December 2013 all current passes are void and you have nine months to attend one of a wide range of locations in person to have your identity verified and photo taken and get a new pass in the form of a plastic card posted out to you. Those with companion passes and disability passes would need to supply evidence that their circumstances continue to require them. The new passes could be equipped with Leap-style chips to work the ticket gates at railway stations. Arrangements could be made for those who would experience hardship to apply by post.
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Unread 16-03-2013, 18:11   #7
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The problem here is any crack down will only last until someone starts to moan to the equally tribunal that 'they' are not being treated equally
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Unread 16-03-2013, 20:50   #8
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The problem here is any crack down will only last until someone starts to moan to the equally tribunal that 'they' are not being treated equally
They're being treated far more favourably than someone younger/not disabled
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Unread 17-03-2013, 11:28   #9
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The problem here is any crack down will only last until someone starts to moan to the equally tribunal that 'they' are not being treated equally
Then the Government can do exactly what they did with the Mobility Allowance. Cancel the scheme entirely with immediate effect pending implementation of a replacement scheme that works and can pass as 'fair'.
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Unread 17-03-2013, 17:45   #10
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The mobility allowance was small fry, 700,000+ passes is a huge number and while cancelling the scheme is nice from an accountancy point of view it doesn't help anyone

Irish Rail lose 30 million in revenue overnight and the government would probably last a week before they would either reinstate or Enda would be heading for the Aras for a dissolution
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Unread 19-03-2013, 14:24   #11
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with the new SW pass which is coming out soon they could surely solve this system.
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Unread 19-03-2013, 14:49   #12
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The new cards are already available but it could take 5 years to convert all the DSP passholders and in the interim the old passes would remain valid.
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Unread 19-03-2013, 22:07   #13
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The new cards are already available but it could take 5 years to convert all the DSP passholders and in the interim the old passes would remain valid.
Actually, things can be done much quicker than that.

It seems that each Social Welfare Local Office (not branch office) is expected to sign 200 people up to the new Public Services Card (PSC) each week. There appears to be 50 such offices, although distribution is somewhat uneven - 5 in each of Kerry and Mayo, but only 4 in Cork - despite 3 times the population and twice the land area.

That is about 509,600 maximum that can be processed each year, with a population of a bit more than 4,500,000 it will take more than 10 years to record everyone, when you account for the more than 500,000 people that will be born or immigrate in that time.

However, there are only 1.1 million FTP pass holders and many of them (those living in an urban area) are required to have ID already. So potentially they could have it done in two years or less. However, the FTP isn't the only source of loss, so all active welfare claimants are being moved to the PSC.

Separately, I think the DSP productivity levels leave something to de desired. I signed up for a card voluntarily and it seems that it takes 3 front-office staff to process those 200 cards per week, although I suspect the back-office requirement is modest. Some better management, streamlining and economies of scale would work wonders.
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Unread 20-03-2013, 02:02   #14
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I didn't think you could sign up for a card without being invited by the DSP?
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Unread 21-03-2013, 12:39   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Howard View Post
The staggering thing here is that 25% of the country's population gets their travel needs provided for 61 million euro. At the rate of an annual "All Service" pass (€5340.00), this would actually cost €5.8 billion!

All right, so a 50% bulk discount is somewhat fair - what do Eircom charge the government for the roughly 25% of all landlines paid for by the state?

But at that rate, all of Irish Rail's money worries would be over. We would have TGVs to Westport on that sort of budget.
Slightly bogus calculations - someone would only buy an annual pass if they knew they were going to use it (and frequently). Pensioners (who afaik make up the bulk of the free travel scheme) get their pass whether they plan to use it or not. My folks have free travel but rarely use it.

Maybe they should charge a nominal fee for the pass (€100?), or as suggested by many make it a discount card rather than a free pass.
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Unread 21-03-2013, 18:00   #16
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I was being a bit of a smart-ass on the 50% suggestion, but 1% is equally absurd. You can be very sure that Eircom get a lot more than 50% of the retail rate for a phone line that in a lot of cases will go equally rarely used.

I think the fair solution would be to add a surcharge to tickets amounting to something around 20% of face value when using any peak services. This could be waived for travel for medical appointments and other state services. There is no real marginal cost for off-peak travel where the services have to be provided anyway, so it makes sense that the status quo should continue off-peak.

However, doing anything about this is politically extraordinarily difficult due to the face that the 1.1 million pass-holders makes up about half of an election turnout.
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Unread 21-03-2013, 20:05   #17
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The scheme costs about €70m and there are 1.1m beneficiaries. The cost is less than one-fifth of one percent of all Government expenditure, and abolishing it would severely p*ss off about one-third of the electorate. So any Government which really interferes with this has a death-wish.

Mind you, given some of the things people think up.,.... (Cyprus?)
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Unread 21-03-2013, 22:42   #18
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Then lets imagine the CIE group tomorrow morning, say double the payment or we will refuse all passes from 1st April?

And before anyone laughs, the doomsday scenario has been worked out by both sides
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