CSO: Covid-19 has 'significant influence' on traffic levels

CSO: Covid-19 has 'significant influence' on traffic levels
Rail and bus services have been particularly badly hit by the pandemic, with passenger numbers declining 97.2% from the start of March to April 5, according to new data from the CSO. File Picture.

Car traffic across Ireland has fallen compared to last year, while freight volumes have increased, despite the ongoing presence of the coronavirus.

New transport statistics from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that, as at July 12, car volumes on roads outside Dublin were just 16.1% lower than at the same point in 2019, while in Dublin, they were 20% lower.

Olive Loughnane, statistician with the CSO, said the new figures show clearly the “significant influence” that Covid-19 has had on traffic volumes.

Since June 28, the volume of heavy goods vehicles has actually increased in comparison to those seen 12 months previously at selected sites, suggesting that the trade economy appears to be functioning despite the viral threat.

That trend had started just before the first phase of lifting lockdown restrictions began on May 18, the CSO said.

Instances of road fatalities are also up on the same period for 2019, with 73 deaths recorded thus far in 2020 compared with 70 people having lost their lives 12 months ago.

Public transport numbers are recovering, but at a much slower rate than that of private vehicles. 

Rail journeys have been hit particularly hard as services struggled to implement socially distant travel and commuters shied away from what were perceived as possible viral hotspots.

In the week beginning April 12, traffic on rail and bus services was ten times lower than the volume seen in the first week of March, although the Easter bank holiday may have contributed to this.

On rail transport, passenger numbers from April 5 were 97.2% lower than in the first week of March as the lockdown measures introduced on March 27 took their toll.

On Dublin’s Luas tram system, meanwhile, the impact on services was slightly greater on the Green, or southside, line, the CSO said.

Air travel meanwhile, has been decimated, with June representing the third consecutive month in which passenger numbers were down by at least 97% year on year.

The number of passengers through Ireland’s airports over the first six months of 2020 was 66.1% lower than the same period in 2019.

In the months since lockdown air traffic fell from 10.5 million passengers to just 164,400, a drop of 98.4%.

Less than 1,000 people travelled through Shannon and Kerry airports between April and June, according to the figures.

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