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Travel demand on public transport during Phase One has been higher than expected, says NTA

Normal Monday-Friday timetables for commuters on bus and DART are due to recommence on 8 June.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

TRAVEL DEMAND DURING Phase One easing of restrictions has been higher than expected, the National Transport Authority (NTA) will tell the Dáil Covid-19 committee today.

Anne Graham, Chief Executive Officer of the (NTA), will tell the committee this afternoon that the NTA believes there is a large percentage of non-essential travel being made on public transport which is using up the capacity that it had planned for Phase Two of the government’s roadmap.

On 8 June, normal Monday-Friday timetables for commuters on bus and DART are due to recommence, the committee will be told.

Since the outset of the pandemic, daily demand is now typically between 10% and 20% of what it was prior to mid-March, Graham states in her opening statement.

Weekly demand in early March (prior to pandemic related restrictions) was approximately 5.6 million passengers. By mid-April this had declined to 500,000 passengers.

An increase in passenger numbers has been apparent in recent weeks, increasing from 500,000 weekly passengers in mid-April to approximately 700,000 in mid-May prior to the easing of restrictions

“There is no doubt that there needs to be a radical shift in the use of active travel modes over the next few months in our towns and cities,” Graham will state, citing a recent mobility plan for Dublin, which shows that there is a need to plan for a doubling of walking and a trebling of cycling journeys at peak time.

Public transport capacity with social distancing “will be significantly challenged” without a number of other supporting measures, Graham will tell the committee.

Such measures include encouraging organisations to continue to facilitate working from home, remote learning, online shopping and online appointments where possible.

The use of public transport will continue to be discouraged at peak times except for essential travel and businesses will be encouraged to have staggered start times and operate longer opening hours to spread demand out of peak times.

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