STA, 29 October 2019 - The National Assembly unanimously endorsed on Tuesday legislative changes making public transportation free of charge for pensioners and persons with disabilities, among others, as of 1 July 2020.
In addition to pensioners and persons possessing the EU disability card, the motion also applies to all registered athletes attending secondary schools and universities and university students with motor disabilities.
Presenting the changes to the road transport act last week, Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek noted that the state had been subsidising tickets for secondary school and university students to provide them with cheaper and safer transport.
"We have now decided to also provide pensioners with such a benefit," she said, adding that the state had already been subsidising inter-city public transport regardless of whether buses and trains were half-empty or totally empty.
"Filling up these seats with pensioners, who will not be buying tickets, would not mean higher costs," the minister explained.
Franc Jurša of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) said that it was "one of the better days in the National Assembly", while Igor Zorčič of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) was reserved about all pensioners enjoying the benefit.
Zorčič said at the time that some pensioners had "very good pensions", adding that the eligibility to free public transportation should be expanded to independence war veterans.
It was thus proposed today by the SMC and three other parties in an amendment that unemployed independence war veterans are also eligible for the benefit. The amendment was confirmed.
During last week's debate, Maša Kociper of the coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) welcomed the fact that the state will enable young athletes to travel to and from practices free of charge.
Anja Bah Žibert of the opposition Democrats (SDS) meanwhile stressed that pensioners had been complaining about the shortage of public transportation lines, in particular in the countryside and in the afternoon hours.
Bratušek said that there were currently around 1,800 public transportation lines, with the ministry being in the process of obtaining data on their occupancy.
New lines could be opened if there is interest. "Our interest is to make [public transportation] as accessible and occupied as possible, so that there is less traffic on the roads," the minister added.