Private bus operators across Ireland will from next month require a Department of Social Protection photo ID to accompany the standard free travel pass issued by the Department to pensioners and a number of other groups of people, writes Brian Byrne.
This is to combat what is believed to be widespread fraud by people offering versions of the standard pass, which doesn't have any method of proving the bearer is the person entitled to use it.
For some time, private operators such as JJ Kavanagh have been asking those showing the passes to also show a form of photo ID, such as a Driving Licence.
And anyone residing in Dublin with a travel pass has been required for some years to get a special photo ID from the Department or Dublin Bus before the pass is accepted in the city services. Pass holders who wish to use rail services to and from the north of Ireland also need a photo version of the pass.
"There has been wholesale abuse of the system," a driver for one of the private operators said. "On one occasion recently I had half my passengers on passes." He intimated that a significant number of these were probably fraudulently used. "But we have no way of telling them to get off the bus."
Private operators get a lump sum from the Department to compensate for carrying travel pass customers. "But that payment hasn't been increased in years, and bears no relationship now to the much-increased numbers of 'passes' being produced."
Finally fed up of what they see as widespread fraud, the private operators have now got together to require the DSP ID card.