SIPTU supports the maintenance of the free travel scheme for pensioners and other eligible groups utilising public transport. SIPTU Organiser Paul Cullen said: “SIPTU supports the maintenance of the free travel scheme for eligible people on services provided by the CIE group of companies. Such a scheme is in line with our union’s belief in social solidarity. In comments reported initially in the Sunday Business Post on 4th August, I was quoted stating that questions had been raised by SIPTU members about the maintenance of the current free travel arrangements.“What was not made clear was that these questions had been raised in the context of the Government's failure to increase funding for the scheme while the numbers utlising it are rising. This is part of a wider problem concerning the need for the adequate funding of public transport.”Paul Cullen added: “Certain media commentators have since decided to make the completely erroneous claim that SIPTU does not support the free travel scheme. This is blatantly untrue and a deliberate misrepresentation. In an article in the Irish Examiner printed today, (Wednesday, 7th August) public relations consultant, Gerry Howlin, went further by weaving this untrue claim into a wider argument in support of the privatisation of public transport services.“His proposals are detrimental to the traveling public. In the case of Dublin Bus the reality is that, until 2007, it was a highly profitable company, posting a €5 million annual surplus. This was achieved in spite of having one of the lowest State subsidy levels in Europe, representing a mere 28% of operating costs. In comparison, the privatised services in London and Brussels had a subsidy level of 38% and 68% respectively.“The question must be raised why are certain media commentators so keen on misrepresenting the SIPTU position concerning the maintenance of the free travel scheme?”