The issue of a commuter tax-saver journey ticket for those who are hybrid working was raised again with the National Transport Authority (NTA) last week by Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú.
The Dundalk TD was speaking as the head of the NTA, Anne Graham, appeared before the Oireachtas Transport Committee.
A committee member, Deputy Ó Murchú conceded this was not the first time he had brought up the issue of the need for a tax saver ticket that would allow those who work from home part of the week to travel to work on two or three days.
The NTA had, at a previous committee meeting, said it was working on a solution, but it would take time.
Deputy Ó Murchú said the tax saver tickets, along with the fare reductions of 20%, and 50% for young adults, were ‘vital components’ in making public transport a viable option for commuters.
At the meeting last week, Ms Graham said the solution, which would be an accounts-based system, was in the procurement process, but stated it was ‘a number of years away’ from being delivered.
Deputy Ó Murchú said he understood that technology needed to be upgraded and procurement needed to be done, but was dismayed to hear it was going to take years.
He asked Ms Graham if the NTA could look at an interim solution, ‘even a pre historic one like punching tickets at station gates’.
He said: ‘We need to be helping people who are removing themselves from the daily commute, which is helping society and the environment’.
Ms Graham said the current technology is ‘very old’ and the infrastructure is not set up to deal with tax saver commuter tickets for two or three days a week. She ruled out the possibility of having tickets punched at stations.
She said: ‘This would require a significant increase in checkers at each station and if this was not in place, it could mean a significant loss of revenue’.
Ms Graham said the NTA had ‘not given up’ finding an interim solution but no short term fix has become available so far.
Deputy Ó Murchú asked Ms Graham to prepare a synopsis of the long term technology requirement and a submission on what the NTA has considered, and rejected, as short term solutions for the transport committee so it could be considered by members.
He said: ‘There needs to be movement on this. We can’t keep asking the same questions. We need to find a short term solution while we wait for the procurement process to conclude. The committee needs to do work on this’.