Consultation on free and discounted fares on public transport (concessionary fares)

Closed 24 Aug 2023

Opened 1 Jun 2023



The Northern Ireland Concessionary Fares Scheme (the Scheme) was established to promote accessible public transport for members of the community who are most at risk of social exclusion. It aims to do so by providing free and discounted fares on public transport for some groups of people.

This consultation sets out the changes that we are thinking about making to the Scheme (now and in the future) and asks you questions about how these changes would impact on you. The consultation is designed to inform our review of concessionary fares and future work in this area.

Consultation Description

The Department for Infrastructure (the Department) recognises the importance of free and discounted travel in the everyday lives of older and disabled people. We also understand the important economic, social, and environmental benefits of the Scheme that go beyond the immediate benefits to concessionary fares passengers themselves. 

However, the costs of the Scheme are significantly higher than they were in 2007/08 when the Scheme was last amended to introduce free travel for all 60–64-year-olds, and are anticipated to rise in the future. This is due to more people living longer and bus fares increasing in real terms over time.

We therefore need to consider how we can ensure the Scheme is financially sustainable and continues to be available for future generations.

With this in mind, we have looked at the Scheme to identify changes to the current eligibility criteria which could reduce the costs of the Scheme while ensuring it continues to be targeted on those who are most vulnerable, or liable, to social exclusion. These proposed changes are set out in Part A of the consultation.

At the same time, the Department also recognises there are other changes that could be made to the Scheme that could help promote greater social inclusion in the longer term. These proposed changes (some of which will increase the costs of the Scheme) are set out in Part B of the consultation.

Any changes that would increase the total costs of Scheme would require additional budget. However, we are consulting on these changes now to inform decisions on how the Scheme might operate in the future.

Other options (such as extending the Scheme to younger people aged 16-23) were considered but are not being consulted on at this time. We may consult on these changes at a future date.

Give us your views

We would like to consult with you to understand the impacts that any changes could have on current and future users of the Scheme. On some issues the Department already has a clear proposal, while on others it has yet to come to a view as to which option is preferred. No decisions have been made yet.

The consultation can be responded to in full or in part, guided by where your interest lies. Each option should be considered independently of the other (the options are not designed to be a package of measures). You may find it helpful to answer questions as they arise at the end of each option.


  • All stakeholders
  • Citizens
  • Voluntary and Community Sector
  • DFI Staff
  • Political Representatives
  • Carers
  • Disability Organisations
  • People with Disabilities
  • Community & Voluntary Organisations
  • Parents


  • Transport
  • Accessibility
  • Disability
  • Community
  • Rural
  • Environment
  • Equality
  • Consultation
  • Analysis
  • Reporting
  • Engagement
  • Policy Development
  • Public Spending
  • NI