Cathal Berry TD is calling for Irish Rail Short Hop Zones to be extended to Newbridge and beyond

Independent TD for Kildare South, Deputy Cathal Berry has called for the Irish Rail Short Hop Zones to be extended to Newbridge, Kildare Town, Monasterevin and Portarlington. Speaking in the Dáil recently in relation to the Budget 2022 measures, Cathal Berry TD welcomed the significant 50% decrease in public transport costs for young people aged 19 to 23.

Deputy Berry commented, ‘The youth travel card proposal is not ideal, but it is a significant start and demonstrates the acceptance of the principle that public transport costs are too high and the Government should, at least, look after those under the age of 23 in that regard. In 12 months’ time I believe that number should be pushed up from 23 to 25 and beyond, up towards 30, until every citizen in the country has access to reasonably priced public transport.’

‘Cutting the costs of public transport is a really important issue, particularly in Kildare South because it’s a commuter area. Iarnród Éireann has the opportunity to put downward pressure on its prices. The short hop zone from Heuston Station in Dublin finishes at Sallins but there is no reason it cannot continue through Newbridge, Kildare town, Monasterevin, Portarlington, Portlaoise and beyond if necessary. If we want to incentivise people to get out of their cars and use public transport, price is a very good motivator. I’ve been calling for this for the last two years and will continue to work on this issue’.

Deputy Berry also welcomed the increase in the SUSI grant for students which was announced yesterday. ‘We know that people in the extremes of age – the elderly and the young – were disproportionately affected during the pandemic. The increase in the grant is the least the student population deserves, particularly when students cannot afford accommodation in Dublin city.’

‘If they are going to be commuting, at least their commuting costs are down, and their grant is up. Is it ideal? Absolutely not, but it is better than nothing. It is a small step and at least half a step in the right direction.’