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Public Transport

Bus passenger numbers on public transport network return to pre-pandemic levels

In November 2022, Bus Eireann carried 3.5 million passengers, surpassing comparable figures from 2019.

BUS PASSENGER NUMBERS on the public transport network have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

That’s according to preliminary figures published by the National Transport Authority today.

Last year, 249 million passengers were carried on public transport, a considerable drop from the figure of 292 million in 2019.

However, by the end of the year, passenger numbers were close to, and in some cases above, pre-pandemic levels.

November 2022 is the latest month for which comparable data is available.

In total, 24 million journeys were made on public transport last November, compared to 24.5 million during the same period pre-pandemic in 2019, which represents a 98% recovery.

However, last November, the latest month for which comparable data is available, Bus Eireann carried 3.5 million passengers.

This is above the 3.3 million figure during the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.

Dublin Bus also saw an increase on pre-pandemic levels, carrying 11.56 million passengers in November of last year, compared to 11.54 million in November 2019.

Luas services meanwhile have seen a return to pre-pandemic demand; it carried 4.1 million passengers last November, the same number of passengers in November 2019.

While Irish Rail has not yet returned to pre-Covid levels, the service narrowed this gap every month last year.

Irish Rail carried 3.4 million passengers last November, a considerable drop from the 4 million over the same period in 2019, which marks an 85% recovery.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said Ireland is “an outlier for all the right reasons when it comes to public transport” and that the “post-pandemic bounce-back makes Ireland a new leader in public transport provision and confidence”.

He added that public transport has been “improved and strengthened” throughout the pandemic by “developing new routes and introducing a range of new fare offers”.

However, Minister Ryan added: “We need to do more, and we will do more. This government is absolutely committed to continuing to strengthen our public transport, and to connecting even more cities and communities, with buses, trains and light rail.”

Elsewhere, CEO of the National Transport Authority Anne Graham said the figures are “very encouraging”.

She added that is it a “testament both to the work being done by the operators and their staff, and to the faith that our customers have in the public transport offering in Ireland”.

Graham noted that Ireland is “ahead of the pack internationally when it comes to the post-Covid recovery of public transport passenger numbers”.

“The Netherlands for example has seen a recovery of just 78%, with a 77% recovery in Ontario Canada and a 72% in New York city,” said Graham.

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