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McGahon / “WFH is becoming a way of life. We have to reflect those changes’

John McGahon
Fine Gael Senator John McGahon chats with Mark Dearey. Photo Credit: Kathy Gilroy-Barry.

Commuters travelling to Dublin for work should now be offered an option to purchase a three day-a-week TaxSaver ticket, as many commuters are now transitioning to working from home on a part-time basis, reducing the need for five day-a-week travel to work.

Commuters in Dundalk and Drogheda who travel to Dublin for work via coach or train can currently purchase monthly or annual TaxSaver tickets, which are based on the cost of travelling to and from work five days-a-week. However, in the post-lockdown environment, many companies are advising their workforce to work remotely if possible. That arrangement may become the norm for many as businesses adapt to new social distancing protocols and growing calls for more flexible working arrangements.

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Speaking on Thursday, Fine Gael Senator John McGahon recalled his own experience of travelling to the capital city on a daily basis.

“Every single day, thousands of people from Dundalk and Drogheda in County Louth travel down the M1 on Matthews Coaches and Bus Éireann services, or take the train to Connolly Station or Pearse Station. They use TaxSaver tickets to lessen the financial burden of commuting,” he said during a Seanad sitting held in the Dáil chamber in Leinster House.

“They do this by getting tax relief on the ticket. An annual [TaxSaver] ticket on the Matthews Coaches service from Dundalk to Dublin costs €2,744. An annual Iarnród Éireann ticket from Dundalk to Connolly or Pearse station costs €3,620. I used one of these tickets for the last seven years when working here as a member of staff before we were given parking, so I know all about it.”

McGahon says he, and former Louth County Councillor Martin Murnaghan, came up with the idea of having an option to buy a ticket for a reduced number of days.

“We have come up with a pretty simple solution. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, I ask that we consider reducing the ticket’s operability from five days a week to three. In the Covid-19 era, working from home will almost become a way of life. We have to reflect those changes.

“I suggest that we ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport [Eamon Ryan] to come to the House at some point in the near future to outline his plans for commuting and also for reducing the days on which the TazSaver ticket is valid from five to three days a week. This would help commuters financially.”

The TaxSaver ticket allows commuters who are entitled to claim tax relief to travel to work can do so by applying for monthly or annual tickets through their employer and in turn deductions are made through payroll on a weekly/monthly basis.

The Dundalk-based Senator added on social media that rather that a TaxSaver ticket for a set number of journeys, not a set period of time, could be offered. “Plenty of times I ended not using it for the full five days a week and felt it was such a waste,” he wrote. “As working from home becomes a mainstay fixture, a three day TaxSaver tickets would reflect the new normal for commuters.”

TaxSavers are also available to commuters travelling from Ardee, via Collins Coaches.

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