Passenger numbers on commercial bus services in Ireland increased to 25.78m in 2017. That’s up from 20.10m in 2013 and 25.25m in 2016.
The figures are released today by the NTA in their Statistical Bulletin: 03 / 2018: Commercial Bus Services in Ireland.
There has been significant and sustained growth in the commercial bus services sector over the five years for which data has been collected. The sector has seen growth in scheduled vehicle kilometres, revenue and passenger journeys each year since 2013 and this continued in 2017. There were 28% more passenger journeys made in 2017 than in 2013.
While there was an increase in passenger numbers in 2017, the increase was relatively modest. It is likely that two particular events in 2017 had an effect. These were the 21-day Bus Éireann strike in March and April and Storm Ophelia which hit on 16th October.
Patterns vary between the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) and areas outside the GDA. At a national level passenger numbers increased by 2.1% in 2017. On services stopping in the GDA, there was an increase from 17.61m in 2016 to 18.37 last year. Passenger journeys on non-GDA services dropped from 7.64m to 7.41m.
Passenger journeys on commercial bus services account for 9% of all public transport journeys in the State, although they account for 45% of all vehicle kilometres travelled by public transport.
The number of accessible vehicles has increased every year since 2013. However, the total scheduled vehicle kilometres which the vehicles provided increased at an even greater rate.
48% of vehicles in the commercial fleet are accessible to wheelchair users, the highest ever. This is up from 35% in 2014 and from 44% in 2016. 61% of all vehicle kilometres are provided by accessible vehicles, up from 39% in 2013.
There are differences in the accessibility standard of a vehicle for users depending on whether the vehicle is a low floor vehicle or has a wheelchair lift. The greatest number of accessible vehicles being used to provide commercial bus services is reported as being vehicles with wheelchair lifts. The reported number of low floor vehicles has increased, but represented just over one in three of the accessible vehicles in 2017.
CEO of the National Transport Authority Anne Graham said: “The figures released today demonstrate the important part played by commercial operators in the delivery of public transport services throughout the state.
“They complement the Public Service Obligation services that are funded by subsidy provided by the NTA and ensure that people in more places can avail of public transport services.”
The figures in today’s report cover all non PSO (Public Service Obligation) bus services provided by private sector commercial operators around the country. The two principal contracted State funded bus operators, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus, also provide some of their services on a commercial basis. These include the commercial Bus Éireann services such as the Expressway services and the commercial Dublin Bus Airlink services. The figures for these services are also included in this bulletin.