Dublin City Centre commuting levels “showing steady signs of recovery” in late 2022

— Sustainable transport vs car use was roughy back to pre-pandemic levels.

The number of commuters travelling into Dublin City Centre in late 2022 was “showing steady signs of recovery” and up substantially since 2021, but hadn’t fully recovered, according to the latest annual traffic report.

The Canal Corden Count Report 2022 shows that all modes of transport are still down compared to pre-pandemic levels. But while car use remained relatively high during the pandemic when the roads were emptier and people wanted to stay away from others, sustainable transport recovered at a far faster pace between 2021 and 2022, taking a huge leap compared to the more minor increase in car use.

The 2021 to 2022 changes included a 57.8% increase in bus use, 89.9% increase in rail use, 91.3% increase in Luas use, 29.3% increase in walking, and a 24.8% in increase in cycling, but just a 2.86% increase in car use.

The report also points to the Central Statistics Office quarterly Labour Force Survey for Q3 2023 which outlined a sharp rise in working from home since the pandemic. It showed that Dublin had the highest proportion of people employed who usually work from home, increasing from 6.5% in Q3 2019 to 30.0% in Q3 2022.

As with all previous Canal Cordon counts, only entry points to the city centre are counted. Travel inside the canal, by both city centre residents as well as commuters making multi-modal trips, is not counted.

The Canal Corden report, published this week ahead of a Dublin City Council Transport Committee meeting, is based on a traffic count conducted in November 2022.

The canal counts are based on traffic counts from the 33 locations which are the entry points to the city centre, the data included in the report is the morning peak from between 7:00 and 10:00. The count is held on two days and an average of the two is used. This is combined with yearly passenger censuses carried out by the public transport companies, also in November.

It outlines that at the time of the traffic count that the number of commuters was still 18% lower than the last pre-pandemic count in 2019, which amounted to 39,981 fewer people.

But the report outlined how there were 47,397 extra commuters in November last year compared to the same time in 2021.

In percentage terms, sustainable transport vs car use was roughy back to pre-pandemic levels with 71% of commuters entering the city centre by a combination of walking, cycling and public transport vs 29% by car.

In 2021, car use amounted to 38% of commuters travelling into the central area of the capital. In 2020 there wasn’t the data to determine public transport use to compare car use to and pre-pandemic car use was at 28%.

The report said: “There had been a continual annual increase in the number of people crossing the canal in the AM peak from 2010 – 2019, this figure lowered during 2020-2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, but is now showing steady signs of recovery. In 2022 there was an increase of 36.5% of sustainable mode numbers between 2021 and 2022 which equates to an additional 47,397 trips.”

Commenting on the data, Feljin Jose, chairperson of the Dublin Commuter Coalition, said: “As expected, there was an overall decrease in the number of people entering Dublin City Centre in the morning peak in November 2022 compared to 2019. However, the percentage of people coming in using sustainable modes still make up the vast majority just as before and the percentage of people coming in using on buses is at its highest ever.”

“We’ve made decent progress in recent years on reducing the number of cars in the city centre and increasing the number of people travelling by public transport and active travel but we still have a long way to go to ensure sustainable transport is prioritised properly in the city centre,” he said,

He added: “I’m hoping that the measures in the upcoming City Centre Transport Study will chart a way forward.”

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