Rush hour bus use in Dublin climbs to its highest, Luas use returns to pre-Covid levels

Bus use at rush hour in late 2023 was higher than ever before recorded, according to draft traffic count data shown to councillors recently during a presentation on the Dublin City Centre Transport.

The yearly traffic and passenger counts is called the Canal Cordon Count, and is always taken in November.

It recorded bus users at 66,949, which is nearly 2,000 people higher than pre-Covid levels of bus use, and Luas use had just recovered to pre-pandemic levels at 13,848 passangers, 16 more people counted than in 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of people walking, cycling, using the train, and driving were still below 2019 levels, and the total number of people entering the city centre at rush hour was 10% lower than before the pandemic.

Walking and cycling levels are 28% lower, car use 18.5% lower and rail use also 10% lower.

Walking and cycling use, however, have been increasing since Covid, while car use declined last year. Walking and cycling saw a 3% year-on-year increase between 2022 and 2023, while car use declined by 2%.

It is worth noting that within the Canals, a far percentage of residents walk and cycle than those who live outside the canal, while a lot of public transport users switch to walking and cycling for part of their trips once they arrive in the city centre. Only a minority of city centre residents own cars, and fewer still commute by car.

Unlike some other cities, none of Dublin City Council’s Covid expansion of cycle routes extended to crossing the boundary into the city centre. Dublin still has no segregated cycle path in both directions at the entry point to the city centre.

That situation is due to change within months as the Clontarf to City Centre project nears its final phases. It was, in the inbound directly only, around 95% opened in December last year, after the count.

The interim Liffey Cycle Route and Chesterfield Ave cycle route in Phonix Park nearly got there before the Clontarf route, but these routes are not segregated at the point where they meet, which is also a count location. Both routes are also not segregated at other significant points along their routes, making both non-continuous routes.

The 2022 Canal Cordon report pointed to CSO data, which showed that Dublin had the highest proportion of persons employed who usually work from home and that this had increased from 6.5% of the workforce in Q3 2019 to 30.0% in Q3 2022. A CSO report covering 2023 has yet to be published.

The traffic counts are carried out each year and the number of people walking and wheeling, people cycling, and motor vehicles are counted at a ring around the city centre known as the Canal Cordon. The cordon is made partly of the Royal and Grand Canals to the centre and east of the city centre and the North Circular and South Circular roads to the west of the city centre.

Parallel counts are taken of how many public transport users are onboard buses, trams and trains. This includes people carrying out the counts getting on Dublin Bus buses and checking how many people are on board buses as they cross the cordon line. An estimate is taken of private buses and coaches, as is an estimate of the average number of people in cars.

The full report is expected to be published soon.

20192023Percentage change
Bus 65,04866,9492.9%
All public transport116,287114,463-1.5%
Car 58,98548,035-18.5
Walk 24,69117,820-28%
Totals (including others)217,223193,592-10%

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