Ireland’s Bus Éireann back to pre-Covid figures

Bus Éireann, Ireland’s national bus company, has announced a return to pre-Covid passenger levels.

The operator has achieved 89.5 million passenger journeys for the full year in 2022, despite some pandemic impact in the first two months of the year. In 2021, passenger journeys were 57.5 million.

In 2022, Bus Éireann operated more than 225 million kilometres. This includes more than 220 Bus Éireann and Expressway routes, and more than 8,000 school transport routes. The largest increase in passenger journeys was seen on the Navan town bus service, which saw a completely new town service funded by the National Transport Authority grow passenger numbers by 750% compared to the more limited service available in 2019.

For the past number of months, overall road passenger numbers are 15% higher than they were in 2019.  The services which have seen the largest increase in passenger journeys compared to 2019 include Route 115 services between Mullingar and Dublin and Route 303 services in Limerick city, both with between 40% to 60% more passengers now than in 2019.

In 2022, Bus Éireann has added over 1.8 million kilometres of additional services for passengers through new and enhanced routes under the NTA Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan. Bus Éireann operates Expressway, Ireland’s largest commercial inter-city coach network. Expressway has also seen increased demand on services – with Routes 30 and 32 from Donegal town and Letterkenny to Dublin performing particularly strongly.

To deliver this growth, in 2022 Bus Éireann hired 215 new drivers to join its workforce with recruitment ongoing in 2023. “The exceptional growth in passenger demand for our services is explained by a number of factors,” said Stephen Kent, Chief Executive, Bus Éireann. “First, we are operating more and better services following National Transport Authority investment – typically, when additional services are introduced, passenger numbers increase by up to 70% within a year.

“Second, the Government’s 20% fare reduction and 50% reduction on Young Adult Leap Cards means that public transport represents extraordinary value, bringing fares to what they were 20 years ago, at a time when the cost of motoring is higher than ever and people are facing cost of living pressures. Finally, there is an increasing interest in sustainable modes of transport and some people are very consciously choosing public transport options.”

A recent survey of 19-23 year olds commissioned by Bus Éireann and conducted by Bounce Insights, 72% report that they use public transport more now than three years ago.

“2022 has been an exciting year for bus transport in Ireland and we are happy to see so many passengers returning in numbers not seen since the pre-Covid period” – Stephen Kent, Chief Executive, Bus Éireann

Stephen Kent continued: “2022 has been an exciting year for bus transport in Ireland and we are happy to see so many passengers returning in numbers not seen since the pre-Covid period, with a new generation of bus passengers coming on-board for the first time.

“With 89.5 million passenger journeys across our services in 2022, covering over 225 million passenger kilometres – Bus Éireann remains Ireland’s leading provider of transport services for our cities, towns and rural communities, with a 91% customer satisfaction level.

“The updated Climate Action Plan shows the Government has ambitious targets for public transport in Ireland. Through continued investment in our services and network and continuing to serve in excess of 90 million passengers – while also increasing our passenger numbers in 2023 – Bus Éireann is well positioned to support this policy and contribute significantly to achieving the targets set out.”

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