Passenger numbers on public transport rise in 2015
New report says more people used services despite industrial action and fare increases
Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe, with David Franks, chief executive of Iarnród Éireann, and Anne Graham, chief executive of the NTA, at the Phoenix Park Tunnel in Dublin. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
The number of trips taken on State subsidised public transport services increased by eight million last year to 224 million, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has said.
Preliminary figures for 2015 show increases in passenger journey numbers on Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Luas services. However, the rate of growth in the numbers (3.6 per cent) was slower than in the previous year (3.8 per cent).
The growth came in what was a difficult year for operators, who faced bus and rail strikes, fare increases and travel disruption in Dublin as a result of ongoing Luas works in the city centre.
Iarnród Éireann recorded the largest year-on-year passenger increase at 6.1 per cent, followed by Luas with 5.3 per cent. Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann registered year-on-year increases of 2.8 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively.
The NTA’s public transport report shows Iarnród Éireann grew its customer base at a greater rate than Luas for the first time in five years. It carried 39.8 million passengers in 2015 with Luas services used some 34.6 million times.
Iarnród Éireann was the only operator to grow its passenger numbers at a greater level in 2015 than in 2014, when it registered a year-on-year increase of 3 per cent.
The figures also indicate that Dublin Bus is on course to pass the 120 million mark for annual passenger numbers this year.
Drivers of Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus engaged in a two-day strike last May, but further industrial action was prevented by last-minute talks.
Train drivers conducted a work stoppage for a number of hours in October but another round of strikes was averted.
The NTA’s “streamlining” of fares, which was announced last October, also resulted in increases in the prices of many bus, rail and Luas tickets, with small decreases to some price bands, the report says.
Other notable developments in 2015 included the rolling out of the Leap Card to commuters in Limerick.
NTA chief executive Anne Graham said service improvements brought about by the Leap Card and real-time passenger information continued to drive growth last year.
She also said that the authority will continue to pursue a privatisation agenda for some bus routes, an issue which sparked strikes last year.
“We will be progressing our open-market tendering for 10 per cent of the Dublin and national bus routes, opening the Phoenix Park tunnel to passenger trains to bring new routes to people travelling into Dublin from Kildare.
“We will be closely examining and improving bus and rail services, and bringing new bus fleet vehicles, in Dublin and throughout Ireland, ” she said.