Free travel passes are a social welfare program in Ireland that allows seniors and some other people to travel on public and some private transportation lines without paying. A common question that arises is whether people can use these free travel passes in England as well.
Can you use your Irish free travel pass in England? The answer is no: England, Scotland, and Wales have their own free travel schemes separate from Ireland. Irish free travel passes only work between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Despite the fact that an Irish free bus pass doesn’t work in England, it is still a very effective social program. Continue below to read more about where you can travel with an Irish free travel pass, and how to travel for free in England.
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Irish Free Travel Passes Only Work in Ireland
The main reason that Irish free travel passes only work in Ireland is that the other members of the United Kingdom have their own free travel programs for social welfare, and you must be a resident of those areas in order to take advantage of them.
The only cross-border travel that the Irish free travel pass will be eligible for is cross-border travel between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
To be able to use your Irish free travel pass to travel without paying between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, you must meet a few conditions:
- The journey must begin on one side of the border and end on the other side. Round trip tickets are not eligible for a free travel pass.
- You can only use one mode of transportation at a time. You cannot combine a trip that includes both a bus ride and a train ride, or the trip will not be free.
- You must use one through-ticket for your entire journey. You can set up a multi-legged journey across the border, but the location of your final destination must be clearly printed on your ticket.
Who Can Get A Free Travel Pass in Ireland?
In Ireland, free travel passes are allotted to people that are over 66 years and a few other categories that receive a government pension. If you are over 66 and receive a government pension, your free travel pass will be issued to you automatically.
If you receive a government pension for disabilities, you will receive your free travel pass when you are first inducted into the disabilities program.
In most cases, you do not have to manually apply for an Irish travel pass if you are eligible to receive one. If there is some question whether or not you should have an Irish free travel pass and you haven’t gotten one in the mail, you should contact your local government bureau.
How Do I Travel Free in England?
England has its own sets of rules and regulations with regards to free travel passes used in-country. These vary from region to region, and London has its own set of rules for free travel pass use. Here are some of the rules regarding free travel pass used in the rest of the UK:
- In most of England, if you are a resident, you can apply for a free travel pass from the local council as soon as you reach the state pension age, whether you’re a man or a woman. The state pension age depends on where you were born.
- In Wales, if you are a resident, you can apply for a free travel pass once you are 60 years of age.
- In London, if you are a resident, you can apply for a free travel pass once you are 60 years of age, but the free travel pass for London works only on London mass transportation systems.
- In Scotland, if you are a resident, you can apply for a free travel pass once you are 60 years of age.
Other Ways to Save Money Traveling on a Travel Pass in England
If you are a senior (the demographic the free travel passes of the UK are geared towards), there are other options available to facilitate free travel if you are travelling within the United Kingdom.
Here are some of the methods you can use to save money travelling across the UK when you’re a senior:
- The Senior Railcard is an annual savings card that you can use across the United Kingdom for steeply discounted train fare across several areas of the UK.
- Many individual private coaches and train operators offer senior discounts for older travellers. Call ahead and see what concessions each business offers before deciding which one to travel with.
- In more rural areas of the United Kingdom, some local village councils make special concessions for travel fares for seniors. It’s worth it to check in before you travel in these areas and see if there are any discounts offered.
Limitations and Advantages of a Free Travel Pass in England and the UK
Like in Ireland, the free travel passes offered in the rest of the United Kingdom come with certain conditions that must be met in order for them to be used. The free travel scheme is very convenient for people who meet the qualifications, but there are rules to follow.
Here are some of the limitations and advantages of a free travel pass in England and the rest of the UK other than Ireland:
- The free bus pass in England only works during off-peak travel times, which means it is only eligible for free travel between 9:30AM and 11PM on weekdays and all day on weekends and public holidays.
- People living in Wales can use their Wales free travel pass to travel in and out of England, as long as their journey begins and ends in Wales.
- There are no unified schemes of free travel across Great Britain, so you must obtain a free travel pass from your region of origin, and it is only eligible for that region alone; a free travel pass in Scotland does not work in England, nor one from Ireland or Wales.
Where Can I Use My Free Irish Pass?
There are several major public transportation companies that will accept a free travel pass within the borders of Ireland, both in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland.
Here is a list of the major companies that accept a free travel pass in the Republic of Ireland:
- Bus Éireann (long distance)
- Bus Éireann (city bus service)
- Dublin Bus
- Iarnród Éireann (rail)
- Certain private bus and ferry services (check ahead before travelling)
Here is a list of the major companies that accept a free travel pass in Northern Ireland:
- Ards Tours
- B&C Coaches
- Cavehill Coaches
- Logan’s Executive Travel
- McAnuity’s Yellow Line Coach Hire
- Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company
- McDermott Coach Hire
- Translink (Metro Belfast, Ulsterbus, Goldline, NI Railways, Enterprise)
Using Free Travel Passes in Ireland and England
One of the best advantages of living in Ireland or England is access to their robust mass transportation systems and social welfare programs. If you are an elderly or disabled resident, it can make life easier not having to pay fares constantly when you are unable to drive yourself.
While you can’t use your Irish free travel pass on English buses and trains, there are plenty of places in Ireland that you can use it, and England has its own free travel schemes available if you are eligible. Just be sure to check ahead before you make plans. Happy travelling!
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Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.