Lockdown drives down traffic volumes to half of 2019 levels

N7 at Citywest sees 51,719 daily vehicle journeys this year compared to 102,048 in 2019

Volumes of road traffic in the first two weeks of the year have been half of what they were before the lockdown, new figures reveal.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland traffic counts show volumes are also almost a third down on the average last year, when there were nine months of various restrictions.

The most dramatic fall-off in traffic has been on the M1 near the Border at Jonesborough, Co Armagh. There has been an average of 10,188 vehicles crossing the Border on a daily basis to date this year.

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This is 40 per cent of the average in 2019 (25,271) and 59 per cent of the average last year (17,164), when Covid-19 restrictions were first introduced.


The average daily traffic volume on the busy N7 at Citywest outside Dublin shows there have been 51,719 vehicle journeys per day to date in 2021.

This is 51 per cent of what it is was in 2019 (102,048) and 70 per cent (74,747) of what it was last year.

The M1 northbound towards Dublin Airport, another exceptionally busy route, had less than half the traffic it had in 2019. There has been an average of 64,078 vehicle journeys per day to date. That’s 46 per cent of the 138,084 journeys carried out in 2019 and 70 per cent of the average daily journeys (91,348) in 2020.

Traffic substantially down

Traffic into regional cities is also substantially down. Traffic on the M8 into Cork city between Glanmire and the Dunkettle interchange is just 47 per cent of what it was in 2019 and 65 per cent of what it was last year.

There have been an average of 11,450 journeys every day this year on that route. This compares to a daily average of 24,050 journeys in 2019 and 17,517 journeys in 2020.

Traffic on the N18 between junction 4 at Cratloemoyle and junction 5 at Cratloe, Co Clare, into Limerick city, is down to 42 per cent of what it was pre-lockdown levels. There have been an average of 16,674 journeys per day this year in comparison with 39,615 in 2019 and 27,603 last year.

The N6 into Galway city at Bóthar na dTreabh is running at 54 per cent of traffic volumes in comparison to 2019, with 13,407 journeys per day compared to 24,739 that year, and 18,612 (72 per cent) compared to 2020.

The percentage of traffic volumes consisting of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) is much higher than it was in 2019. This indicates an even greater fall in journeys by private cars.

One in five journeys across the Border has been by a HGV compared to one in 10 in 2019. HGVs are 12.5 per cent of all traffic at Citywest in comparison to 8.1 per cent in 2019, and 15.8 per cent of traffic on the M8 in comparison with 8.5 per cent in 2019.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times