Bus and rail use still 50% lower than pre-pandemic levels

Bus and rail use still 50% lower than pre-pandemic levels

The number of bus and rail journeys is increasing but remains 50% lower than pre-pandemic levels, new data from the CSO shows. File Picture.

Bus journeys are on the rise but still lag far behind cars and trucks on Ireland's roads, while road deaths have increased substantially despite the reduced road traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), there have been 13 more fatalities on Irish roads in the first eight months of 2020 in comparison with the same period in 2019.

The CSO said in its latest Transport Bulletin that while the number of journeys taken by bus and rail was increasing, it was still over 50% lower than prior to the pandemic.

CSO statistician Olive Loughnane said: "The number of passenger journeys on public transport has dropped dramatically since the start of the Covid-19 crisis with journeys by rail most severely hit. Public transport volumes are recovering at a much slower rate than road traffic."

However, she said it is noteworthy that the volume of bicycles during off-peak hours was 9.4% higher in August 2020 compared to the same month a year earlier.

The total number of bus and rail journeys taken during the week beginning August 30 was less than half of those taken in early March. 

The number of bus journeys outside of Dublin now stands at 54.6% of pre-pandemic levels. 

The data indicates that rail was the mode of transport that was most severely hit since the onset of the crisis, the CSO said.

In the week beginning April 5, the number of journeys undertaken was 97% lower than it was in the first week of March of this year. 

From August 30 to September 5, the number of journeys by rail was 61% lower than pre-Covid-19 levels. Rail data includes passenger journeys on Intercity and DART services, the CSO said.

The statistics body said that the data shows that since the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the volume of cars on Irish roads has been steadily increasing. Recent restrictions have slowed this recovery somewhat, the CSO said.

The volume of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) is now greater than it was for the same period last year in both Dublin and in the regions, the CSO said.

Ms Loughnane said: "Car traffic volumes for the week ending September 5 were 15.7% lower than 2019 levels at regional locations and 18.9% lower in Dublin. HGV traffic volumes are exceeding 2019 levels for the 11th consecutive week in selected Dublin locations."

In the first eight months of this year, the number of new cars was 71,873, a drop of 30.6% when compared with the same period in 2019. 

However, the number of hybrid cars sold increased by over 8%.

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