Controversy over free bus pass for Rome's Holocaust survivors

Rome transport initiative causes disbelief on social media.

Roman survivors of the Holocaust are to be granted free annual bus passes in an initiative announced on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January, by the capital's transport councillor Linda Meleo.

However the proposal has been met with disbelief on social media, with many commentators pointing out that the very few remaining survivors are all in advanced years and may not even be fit to face Rome's public transport network.

In addition Rome residents aged over 70, with an annual income of less than €15,000, already receive a free annual travel pass, or abbonamento, from the capital's transport company ATAC.

The initiative was described as "a sign of closeness to Rome's Jewish community" by Meleo, who belongs to Mayor Raggi's anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle.

Despite causing a furore on the internet, the "obviously symbolic gesture" was welcomed by the president of the capital's Jewish community Ruth Dureghello, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Last September Rome bid farewell to Enrica Zarfati, the city’s last Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, who died in the capital aged 95.