Epilepsy Ireland's advocacy sees expanded Free Travel Scheme introduced

May 17 2024

Epilepsy Ireland Free Travel

DFI member organisation Epilepsy Ireland have been advocating for an expanded Free Travel scheme for many years. On 9 May it was confirmed that applications are now open for the newly expanded scheme. 

The changes to the Free Travel scheme allows people who are deemed medically unfit to drive for at least one year – or will never be able to drive due to a long-term health condition or disability – apply directly to avail of Free Travel.

Applications for the expanded scheme were opened on 9 May, in advance of eligibility coming into effect on 29 July. With an estimated 32,000 people in Ireland potentially eligible, this lead-in time is to ensure that anyone who is eligible applies well in advance of the changes coming into force in July.

Epilepsy Ireland were delighted to join with Minister Heather Humphreys, Department of Social Protection officials and Bus Éireann officials to officially launch the opening of applications for the expanded scheme. Epilepsy Ireland media volunteers Wayne O'Reilly and Lisa Whelan were also in attendance to share the lived experience of the challenges driving restrictions can cause for people with epilepsy. 

Speaking at the launch event, Minister Heather Humphreys said, "This measure is expected to benefit some 32,000 people this year and will give them access to free travel on all public transport provided by the State.It will benefit people with a range of disabilities including, for example, those with epilepsy, and who, as such, face additional transport costs, especially when commuting to work.I want to particularly thank Epilepsy Ireland and commend them for their efforts in ensuring these changes have been delivered. Finally, I encourage those wishing to avail of this extension to the Free Travel scheme to apply now.”

Epilepsy Ireland CEO Peter Murphy, was also in attendance and said: "Navigating a new diagnosis of epilepsy can be extremely difficult in itself and the challenges faced by people living with this condition can often be hidden. Not being able to drive can be one of the most challenging aspects of living with epilepsy – particularly when a person is trying to remain in employment, education or to simply remain socially active. That’s why opening access to the Free Travel scheme to people with epilepsy – and people with other disabilities and long-term health conditions – who are unable to drive due to their condition is such an important step to ease the significant burden that can be caused by driving restrictions. We are delighted to see applications open today for the expanded Free Travel scheme and wish to thank Minister Humphreys for her willingness to implement this change, which Epilepsy Ireland have advocated for over many years."

With applications now open for the expanded Free Travel scheme, Epilepsy Ireland have offered thanks all their members, volunteers, and supporters who advocated for this change – as well as thanking all TDs and Senators who have raised this issue over the last number of years.  They offered partiaular thanks to Minister Humphreys for supporting their campaign and securing this change as part of Budget 2024, which has led to the launch of the expanded scheme.

To learn more about the history of Epilepsy Ireland's campaigning on this issue, visit the ‘Advocacy’ section of their website.

How to apply for the expanded Free Travel scheme?

  • To apply for Free Travel, you must hold a Public Services Card. When entitlement to Free Travel is approved, a Public Services Card which identifies entitlement to Free Travel will be issued. If you do not have a Public Services Card (PSC), you need to attend a PSC Centre to get one. PSC Centres offer either an appointment or walk-in service. You can find details of your local PSC Centre by visiting the Gov.ie website.
  • If/when you have a Public Services card, you can fill out the Free Travel Application form. This will need to be signed and stamped by your GP, confirming that you are medically unfit to drive for at least one year. Note that no further documentation is required other than the GP’s certification on the form.

    The application form is available to read and download at the end of this article. The form is also available in hard copy at your local INTREO centre. You can find details of your local INTREO office by visiting the Gov.ie website.

  • Completed application forms should be sent to:
    Free Travel Section
    Department of Social Protection
    Social Welfare Services
    College Road

    F91 T384
  • If you need any further information or advice on completing the form for the extended Free Travel scheme, you can contact the Free Travel section by email at freetravelqueries@welfare.ie or by calling 0818 200 400 or 071 915 7100.

Further information on all the above can also be found by visiting the Gov.ie website.