16 million more passengers use public transport in 2018

266,000,000 passenger journeys were provided by Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, Luas and Go-Ahead Ireland on ‘Transport For Ireland’ Public Service Obligation (PSO) services in 2018. That’s an increase of almost 16 million, or 6.28% compared to 2017.

The preliminary full-year figures for each of the state-supported public transport operators were published today.

With a jump of 12.9%, Bus Éireann has posted the single biggest percentage increase of any of the operators. The company provided 35.1m passenger journeys in 2018 compared to 31.1m in 2017 and 32.1m in 2016.

Numbers on Bus Éireann’s city services in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford did particularly well, increasing by 13.2% overall.

The performance by Dublin Bus has been very strong and once again, the company provided the largest number of passenger journeys in 2018 at over 140m. This represents an increase of almost 4m over 2017, with the company posting five straight years of passenger growth.

New routes and services such as the 40E along with improved frequencies on many other routes have enabled Dublin Bus to continue to build on their passenger numbers in 2018. The NTA will continue to support the company in rolling out more new routes and other service enhancements in 2019.

Iarnród Éireann had a very good year with numbers on both Dart and commuter services increasing by between 4% and 5%. The company is benefitting from continued economic growth and has seen demand increasing across the network. The expansion of services through the Phoenix Park Tunnel and the introduction of the 10-minute Dart schedule have helped passenger numbers continue to expand.

The performance of intercity services was particularly encouraging with an increase in passenger journeys from 11.4m in 2017 to 12.4m. That represents a jump of 8.4%.

Numbers on Luas increased by 11% to almost 42m, in 2018. The Green Line extension to Broombridge which opened in December 2017 along with the seven longer trams that were brought into operation last year, were among the factors contributing to the positive year.

Go-Ahead Ireland became a PSO transport operator in Autumn 2018 and provided 1.3m passenger journeys on the routes that they operate in the Dublin region.

These include brand-new routes such as the 175 which connects CityWest to UCD and newly-extended routes such as the 33A linking Skerries, Swords and Dublin Airport.

Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority said:

“These numbers are very positive and are a testament to the range and quality of services provided by our public transport operators.

It is clear that when there is a reliable, high quality, value-for-money public transport offering that customers will respond positively to it.

But none of us can rest on our laurels, and the priority now must be to deliver on those improvements in our public transport infrastructure that are provided for under the National Development Plan announced last year.

In the shorter term, we will purchase more bus vehicles for use around the country this year, and will be moving to purchasing low-emission vehicles from July.

We are also looking to increase capacity on our rail service by acquiring additional fleet that will be introduced in the coming years.

Meanwhile, work on extending current Luas trams to 55 metres will continue this year.”

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, has today welcomed the publication by the NTA of passenger numbers for 2018.

“These figures reflect very well on public transport in Ireland. While there are undoubtedly pinch points and areas of congestion in the system, there is no doubt that by and large, our public transport is very good. These figures are evidence that customers are voting with their feet and using the services more and more, year after year.

But we need to make sure we can accommodate future growth in the years ahead. That is why last year we announced a €8.6 billion investment programme for public transport under Project Ireland 2040.

Project Ireland 2040 is an ambitious plan, and €8.6bn is a significant sum, but I believe that it will be money well spent.

This investment will improve transport systems and thereby make Ireland a better place to live, and make it a more attractive place to visit and to do business.

The growth in public transport services has been supported by higher levels of subvention in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and will further increase this year.”

Public Transport Numbers (m):

Dublin Bus Go-Ahead Ireland Bus Éireann Iarnród Éireann Luas TOTAL
2010 117.05 29.13 38.23 27.53 211.94
2011 115.05 28.48 37.38 29.1 210.01
2012 113.28 28.63 36.74 29.32 207.97
2013 112.49 28.64 36.74 30.51 208.38
2014 116.26 29.69 37.8 32.61 216.36
2015 119.8 30.23 39.66 34.6 224.29
2016 125.3 32.1 42.8 34.1 234.3
2017 136.3 31.1 45.5 37.6 250.5
2018 140 1.33 35.1 48 41.8 266.23
Annual growth (m) 3.7 1.33 4 2.5 4.2 15.73
Annual growth (%) 2.71 12.86 5.49 11.17 6.28


Updated Friday 11 January 2019.