Retirees’ Free Public Transport Tickets Secure in Slovenia
Ministry’s Assurance on Free Tickets
The Ministry of Environment, Climate and Energy reassured the public that retirees’ free public transportation tickets are not in danger of being eliminated. This follows recent controversy ignited by a representative’s comments about the possible cessation of free tickets for retirees. The ministry’s statement on Monday declared that the free tickets will remain in place for the foreseeable future, a decision also backed by the Minister of Environment, Climate and Energy, Bojan Kumr.
Strong Opposition Against Elimination
The proposal to scrap free tickets for retirees over 65, a scheme which was introduced by the government of Janez Janša in 2020, met with severe opposition. The Youth Party – Greens of Europe and the Association of Pensioners’ Societies of Slovenia were among those who passionately urged the government to rethink the proposed decision.
Context of the Proposed Charges
The ministry clarified that the idea of charging some holders of free tickets for the use of public transport was proposed with the aim of reducing congestion on the most burdened lines, primarily bus lines. They receive daily complaints from students and employees who cannot board buses during peak hours as they are overcrowded due to a large number of passengers with free tickets.
Seeking Additional Solutions
In response to the overcrowding issue, the ministry is exploring other solutions. These include introducing additional lines and vehicles, potential reservations on certain lines, and encouraging the use of public transport outside of peak hours. However, if these measures prove inadequate, the ministry does not dismiss the possibility of removing free tickets.
Reservations: Not the Ideal Solution
As for the introduction of reservations, the ministry generally does not consider this a good solution. They believe it would be an additional burden that would deter people from using public transport.
Current Beneficiaries of Free Tickets
There are currently 230,000 beneficiaries of free tickets for public transport in Slovenia. The majority are retirees, but the list also includes holders of disability cards and war veterans. Regular tickets are used by 100,000 beneficiaries. The busiest routes lead to the coast (Koper, Izola, Portorož, Piran) and to Bled and Bohinj. The number of free tickets among retirees saw a significant increase in the second quarter of 2022, following the end of measures to prevent the Covid-19 epidemic, and a minor increase in users has been observed since then.
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