Recession drives down number of hauliers by 8pc
ANYBODY driving on our roads will notice that vans and lorries are no longer the common sight they were during the boom.
It is no secret that the transport sector has been hammered by the economic crisis but figures from the Central Statistics Office capture the effects with a level of detail that can be shocking.
The latest edition of the CSO's Transport Omnibus, which covers 2011, shows that there were only 4,380 licensed hauliers in the State last year, a decrease of 8.4pc on 2010.
Along with the nation's other businesses, they owned 81,178 registered goods vehicles. Together, these vehicles made 10.2 million laden journeys and transported a total of 110.3 million tonnes of freight.
These business vehicles travelled a combined 1.3 billion kilometres, which equals 9,941 million tonne-kilometres.
This is a stark decline since the peak of road freight activity in 2007. Activity in terms of tonne-kilometres has tumbled 47pc since 2007 with the distance travelled by goods vehicles falling an astonishing 63pc. Laden journeys fell by 57pc over the same period.
The most significant destination regions for domestic haulage in 2011 were Dublin and the south-west. These accounted for a little more than 38pc of tonnes carried domestically, and 39pc total domestic activity in terms of tonne-kilometres.
The main commodities transported by Irish-registered goods vehicles in terms of tonnes carried in 2011 were quarry products, metal ores and peat and food.
While it is perhaps surprising that food only comes third on the list, the figures show that the greatest share of total freight activity in terms of tonne-kilometres related to foodstuffs – reflecting the fact that food must be carried into every corner of the country while rocks and metal usually go from mine or quarry to a particular destination.
Irish-licensed vehicles travelled a total of 41.7 billion kilometres (or 3,000 times the distance of the Earth from the Sun), while the average vehicle travelled 17,227 kilometres.
The number of vehicles under licence and the total vehicle kilometres travelled have been decreasing since 2008, while the average kilometres driven per year has been decreasing since 2004.
When it comes to shipping, the figures do not seem as bad. A total of 12,059 trading vessels (of 100 gross tonnes or more) arrived in Irish ports and together they unloaded 30 million tonnes of goods and loaded 15 million tonnes of goods.
Compared with 2010, the total tonnage of goods handled remained unchanged. In 2011, Britain remained our most important maritime trading partner, with goods loaded in British ports accounting for 42pc of all tonnes received and goods unloaded in British ports accounting for 46pc of all tonnes forwarded.
Dublin port was the busiest port, handling more than two-fifths of all goods received and nearly half of all goods forwarded in 2011.
In 2011, the busiest ferry route was the Dublin-Holyhead route, which accounted for 56pc of all passengers on scheduled ferry services.
When it comes to air travel, Dublin airport is even more dominant than Dublin port.
In 2011, almost 24 million passengers passed through Irish airports, a marginal decrease on 2010. Passenger numbers fell in all airports with the exception of Dublin (up 1.8pc) and Knock (up 11.5pc). Four out of five of all passengers travelled through Dublin airport.