Rise in numbers using the Luas as buses losing ground
THE Luas has bucked the public transport trend, with the number of people using its two lines rising this year.
Passengers are making the switch from bus to rail and tram as new figures show that CIE companies continued to lose customers during the recession.
Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann will carry almost 12 million fewer passengers this year, while Luas and Iarnrod Eireann are expected to increase their share of the public transport market.
Much of the gain comes after almost a month of sub-zero temperatures, which forced many on to public transport.
But the Railway Procurement Agency, which operates the Luas, said the extension of the Red Line to the Point Depot and the Cherrywood extension on the Green Line helped drive numbers back up to 2008 levels.
"The Luas Red Line has performed particularly well in 2010," spokesman Tom Manning said.
"This line is becoming increasingly popular not just with commuters, but with people attending events at the O2 and other venues in the North and South Docklands area.
"The Green Line Cherrywood extension, which opened in October 2010, is expected to carry 500,000 passengers by the end of 2010," he added.
Preliminary figures for 2010 from each of the public transport companies show:
- Dublin Bus numbers fell to 119 million journeys, a drop of 7pc.
- Bus Eireann figures were also down 7pc, to 39.9 million.
- Luas saw an increase of just over 6pc, up to 27 million.
- Iarnrod Eireann experienced a slight rise of 3pc, up to 39.65 million.
Iarnrod Eireann said the cold weather gave a boost to numbers, and showed that people could leave the car at home and use the train to get to work.
"We had a very clear boost at the end of the year because of the weather disruption," a spokesman said.
"On some routes, such as Dublin to Rosslare, numbers are up almost 40pc. We hope that in 2011 that will continue.
"In the Dublin area, the fact is that, recession notwithstanding, there's still a lot of road congestion and we have capacity. Our job is to keep those people."
But commuters could yet face cuts in services unless passenger numbers improve on the buses.
Bus Eireann, which lost almost three million passengers, said services were still being assessed as the company attempts to make savings.
"Passenger numbers are up between the cities, but during December the number of children using the school transport system fell," spokesman Andrew McLindon said.
"We've had a cost-efficiency process in place for a number of years now and that will continue. We will revise the network in line with customer demand."
He added that this could include adding extra services or new routes if required.
Figures for Dublin Bus show it has lost almost 24 million passengers in just two years.
Falling numbers forced the company to carry out a radical restructuring of its network this year called Network Direct.
This involved cuts in some services, but the company insists the re-organised network provides a better service to passengers.
"January was a bad month . . . with snow, and this December has to be looked at," a spokeswoman said.
"Network Direct simplifies the network and provides faster, more frequent and direct services. It's an easier network to understand and makes better use for bus priority."
The CIE group had its subvention cut by €13m in the Budget to €263.2m for 2011. Last year, around 270 buses were taken off the road.