There is no compelling case to reverse the decision to scrap free travel for pensioners on the island’s vintage trains and trams, a Tynwald select committee has concluded.
The committee was set up to investigation a Tynwald Day petition from Manx Labour party members Carole Quine, Lynn Sirdefield and Richard Halsall.
They argued that state pensioners should be entitled to free travel on the heritage railways as they should be able to afford to take their grandchildren on days out on the trains.
Free travel on all bus, train and tram services in the island for residents over the age of 60 was scrapped in April 2015 as part of a cost-saving measure.
Instead, they had to pay half fare outside peak times, and full fare before 9am (and between 4pm and 5.30pm on weekdays on bus services).
But the committee concluded that train and tram travel in the Isle of Man should be considered a leisure activity and not an essential means of public transport.
Its report, to be laid before this week’s Tynwald sitting, states: ’We conclude that there is no compelling case to reverse the decision of March 2015. We would prefer to encourage more uptake of the concessionary travel pass.
’We conclude that offering free train and tram travel to pensioners is an ineffective means of addressing the wider problem of social welfare needs.’
The report describes the concessionary fares available to pensioners as ’reasonable’, and the Go Platinum Rail card in particular ’offers good value for money’.
It recommends that the Department of Infrastructure should consider offering an advance purchase discount on annual passes for the Isle of Man Steam Railway and Manx Electric Railway, but not for the Snaefell Mountain Railway.
The report accepts that while the Manx Electric Railway and the Steam Railway can be used to travel to Douglas, Ramsey, Castletown, and Port Erin for shopping and other daily activities, the Snaefell Mountain Railway cannot be considered anything but a ’journey of desire’.
And while the MER is an important means of transport for residents in Groudle Glen, given the limited bus service in that area, the railway network is limited to the north, south and east of the island, and so cannot facilitate any ’journeys of necessity’ for those living in the west.
’We do not consider it practicable to reinstate the Peel to Douglas railway line so as to facilitate such journeys, as suggested by the petitioners,’ the committee states.