FREE public transport for children aged five to 18 could be a vital intervention in tackling traffic congestion in Cork city, a Sinn Féin councillor has said.
The party has launched its alternative budget for 2020 ahead of the Government’s Budget next week and one of its central measures is free travel for young people.
Northside councillor Thomas Gould said it would have the triple effect of reducing emissions and congestion while giving back to the taxpayer.
Similar schemes are in place in Dunkirk, in France, Tallinn, in Estonia, and throughout Luxembourg - which became the first country in the world to make all its public transportation free of charge this summer. Beijing gives free bus travel to people who recycle plastic bottles, while Istanbul offers travel card top-ups to commuters who recycle waste.
Workers’ Party councillor Ted Tynan brought a motion to City Hall calling for free public transport earlier this year.
Mr Gould said: “To me, this would be a huge benefit for people in Cork. It would get them out of cars. Cork is congested with traffic and we need to reduce our carbon footprint. This is a fully costed plan. It would be a really positive thing that the Government could do.
“Free travel for pensioners, when it was introduced, was a hugely positive initiative and this is the next step.
“Free public transport for all is something that they are rolling out in some European cities and it’s a big issue long-term. This is an offering to young children and their families and promotes the green agenda being pushed by young people.
“People have less money in their pockets than they did when Fine Gael, supported by Fianna Fáil, came into power three years ago. They have stood by and refused to take action on extortionate rents, runaway childcare fees while the cost of insurance and mortgages are out of control.
"Insurance companies, banks and landlords are making billions while workers and families are ripped off.
“Sinn Féin’s alternative budget will give workers and families a break,” he added.
The party’s proposals also include an emergency freeze on rents and bringing in rent relief; reductions in the cost of childcare by an average of €100 a month per child; two free GP visits for every person without a medical card; a freeze on carbon tax; measure to reduce insurance increases and €300 million investment in disability services.