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Thursday 28 August 2014

We don't like the price of fares, but still made 209m journeys last year

Paul Melia

Published 13/06/2014 | 02:30

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The Luas rail system.
The Luas rail system.

Passenger numbers across the public transport sector are on the rise, with more than 209 million journeys made last year.

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Much of the growth is fuelled by an increased number of people using buses in the regions.

Numbers are up 9pc in Galway and Cork cities following a restructuring of the network, new figures from the National Transport Authority (NTA) show.

And a spokeswoman confirmed that the steady growth of 2013 is continuing into this year, with numbers increasing by almost 3pc in the first five months – ahead of a government target of 2pc.

One operator, Luas, says the number using its services is up 7.7pc so far this year, while Iarnrod Eireann said it was experiencing growth rates of 2.4pc.

The figures come after years of falling numbers across the network due to the economic collapse and higher unemployment rates.

A series of fare hikes have been approved by the NTA in recent years to shore up finances in Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann, Iarnrod Eireann and Luas, but the figures suggest that commuters are increasingly drawn to public transport in an effort to avoid traffic congestion. However, a new poll suggests that just under half of all public transport users are happy with the cost of using public transport.

Satisfaction

A Eurobarometer poll, which recorded satisfaction levels among users, found that 44pc of Irish passengers were "dissatisfied" with the cost of travel, with just 9pc saying they were happy with the fare structure.

Ireland also came bottom of the table for offering services close to where people live and work – just 62pc of respondents said it took less than 10 minutes to get to the nearest bus, train or tram station, compared with a high of 90pc in Luxembourg.

In all, some 209.4 million journeys were made across Luas, Iarnrod Eireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann in 2013, up 0.6pc.

On bus travel, the NTA's 'Bus Statistics for Ireland' bulletin says that passenger numbers have fallen slightly on Dublin Bus, down 0.7pc.

Among the reasons for the drop were three days of industrial action in August last year, the economy and a redesign of the Dublin Bus network. Bus Eireann numbers are up 3.7pc overall – with large increases in Galway city (up 9.3pc), Cork city (up 8.2pc) and Waterford city (up 3.5pc) following a restructuring of the network. In addition, some 1.74 million were carried on rural transport services.

Despite the increasing numbers, we still lag behind our EU neighbours in accessing public transport.

Just 27pc of people travel by public transport at last once a week, compared with an average of 32pc across the EU. The highest number is in Hungary, 47pc.

Irish Independent

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