SIPTU has condemned the threat to the continuation of the over-65 travel pass scheme due to the refusal of the Department of Social Protection to provide extra funding for transport providers to cover the costs of the public service. SIPTU Retired Members National Secretary, Paddy Moran, said: “Our members are very concerned by media reports today that the Department of Social Protection has stated that it will be providing no extra funding to maintain this service during 2017. At the same time other media reports are highlighting claims by the management of Bus Éireann that are casting doubt on the maintenance of the scheme unless more funding is provided. “This is compounded by a lack of a clear commitment by many of the private bus operators to the travel pass arrangement.” He added: “The threat hanging over this scheme is an unacceptable way to treat its users many of whom rely on it to maintain their social contacts and attend medical appointments. Older people often plan their lives around their ability to utilise free public transport. Those who are casting doubt on the future financing of this scheme surely do not know the stress they are causing to many elderly people, especially those who are already struggling to make ends meet. “It is totally unacceptable that some of the most vulnerable people in our society are being left in doubt about their access to transport, which amounts to a form of elderly abuse. This situation must be resolved immediately and the future of the travel pass scheme assured.”