Last year, Ireland experienced a significant surge in public transport usage, with a record number of passengers opting for buses, trains, and trams across the nation.

In 2023, passenger numbers exceeded pre-pandemic levels by more than 5%, a testament to the growing reliance on public transport. This surge, however, presented challenges in maintaining punctuality and reliability, especially in urban areas where traffic congestion and resource limitations were prevalent.

Challenges to smoother operations

The National Transport Authority (NTA) acknowledged the inconvenience caused to commuters due to these challenges. Efforts were intensified in collaboration with operators like Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, and Iarnród Éireann to mitigate disruptions and enhance service reliability.

A notable stride was made in 2023 with the recruitment of additional drivers. However, a shortage of vehicle mechanics remained a critical issue that the NTA aims to address to ensure smoother operations.

A year of significant public transport development

The year saw significant progress in the ongoing BusConnects Dublin network redesign, with phases 5a and 5b successfully implemented.
This redesign is part of a broader effort to improve efficiency and accessibility of the bus network.

Further advancements included the finalisation of BusConnects Network Redesigns for Limerick and Galway, with implementation plans set in motion for these cities. The NTA also initiated plans for the BusConnects Cork project and new town bus networks, underscoring a commitment to comprehensive public transport development across Ireland.

Connecting Ireland LogoAdditionally, the Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan continued its expansion, delivering 64 new or enhanced services, which significantly boosted public transport usage in rural areas. Noteworthy was the launch of new town bus services in Carlow and Clonmel, marking an important step in enhancing local connectivity.

Working with our operators to ensure continuous improvement of services

To ensure continuous improvement, the NTA emphasized collaborative performance monitoring with operators. Efforts included competitively tendered contracts aimed at enhancing connectivity and services, as well as performance-related payments to encourage higher operational standards. The reliability of services was closely assessed using metrics such as the Lost Kilometre Rate, and complaint rates per 100,000 passengers were monitored to improve customer service quality.

NTA Bus Mystery Passenger Surveys

The NTA also released detailed results of the NTA Bus Mystery Passenger Surveys in the report, providing transparency and insights into areas needing improvement, including driver attitude and cleanliness levels. Despite challenges like the ongoing shortage of bus drivers and mechanics, the NTA and operators remain dedicated to addressing these concerns and ensuring a reliable and efficient public transport system for all.

For more detailed information and specific route updates, passengers are encouraged to read the PSO Performance Annual Report 2023, available here.