More than 5m journeys were taken on public transport in Cork City using Leap cards last year.
Figures provided to the Irish Examiner by the National Transport Authority (NTA) show that Leap use is increasing at a much faster rate in Cork than elsewhere.
From 2017 to 2018, use increased by 48% in comparison to just 22% nationally. Fares are up to 31% cheaper when paid via Leap card instead of cash, with the system in operation on selected public transport services in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Sligo, Athlone, and Wexford.
There were a total of 9,940,712 transactions on public transport in Cork City. This included 5.1m Leap transactions, a 48% increase on the previous year. Nationally, 156.9m Leap transactions were recorded.
A spokesperson for the NTA said that use is high on all routes in the city centre but, in particular, those linking to third-level colleges and high-density areas of employment.
Last month, the NTA confirmed that the Leap zone will extend to areas outside the city. These include Kinsale, Fermoy, Bandon, and Macroom. The bus service to Mallow is also included. However, despite a vocal campaign locally, the train service to Mallow is not.
The NTA has no plans to change this: “We’re certainly aware of calls for Mallow to Cork rail services to be included under Leap, although we have no plans to do so.”
Labour TD Seán Sherlock is critical of that decision, noting that the increased use throughout the Leap network shows there is a demand for competitive fares on the Mallow train service.
“Within the Cork City commuter belt we do not have equity for all commuters,” he said. “More can be done by extending the Leap Card to those on the Mallow commuter line and those who rely on the East Cork bus network. This would have a serious impact on passenger numbers.”