Traffic on Irish roads below pre-Covid levels and public transport ‘significantly’ down in 2019

Traffic on Irish roads is still down from pre-Covid levels while bus and train journeys are “significantly” below levels seen in 2019.

Passenger numbers at Cork Airport also halved in 2021 as a two-month closure and restrictions on international travel for much of the year took their toll.

The number of bicycles on the roads in December 2021, meanwhile, was similar to levels seen in 2020 but 22% lower than in December 2019 according to the latest Transport Bulletin released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Monday.

The number of passenger cars on roads outside Dublin in mid-December was 8.5% lower than the same period a year earlier, while traffic volumes were 8.7% lower in the capital.

During the year, the CSO said the number of cars on the road closely matched the restrictions in place at the time.

At the start of 2021, the country was at the start of an extended period of Tier 5 restrictions.

Traffic on the roads more than doubled from the first week of 2021 to the first week of December, however, these levels were still lower than the same period in 2019.

Public transport

The number of public transport also remains well below pre-Covid levels.

In the case of train journeys in December 2021, they were only 55.4% of pre-Covid levels.

The number of bus journeys outside Dublin in the week starting December 12 was 76.5% of pre-Covid levels.

Overall, the number of train and bus journeys across the country that week were just over two-thirds (68%) of those made at the start of March 2020.

CSO statistician Nele van der Wielen said: “The overall monthly volume of bicycles has also not returned to pre-Covid-19 levels. However, it is important to distinguish between peak and off-peak volumes.

“Monthly peak hour bicycle volume in December 2021 was 50% lower than December 2019. On the contrary, monthly off-peak bicycle volume in December 2021 was 8% higher than December 2019.”

Among the industries hardest hit by the pandemic, airline activity remained well below pre-Covid levels in 2021, although there was an improvement from 2020.

The number of passengers passing through major airports in December 2021 was four times higher than in December 2020, but 48.9% lower than in the same month in 2019.

Liege Airport

The closure of Cork Airport for more than two months from September played a part as it handled 255,103 passengers in 2021. This compared to 527,014 in 2020 and over 2.5 million in 2019.

Meanwhile, the number of new passenger cars registered for the first time in Ireland increased by 20.8% in 2021 compared to 2020, but the number of used imported cars registered fell by 13.4%.

The stats also contain rough gasoline and diesel sales figures, with automotive diesel clearances up 17.9% in November 2021 compared to November 2020 and gasoline clearances up 39%. .7% over the same period.

Additionally, heavy truck traffic exceeded 2019 levels for most of the second half of 2021. However, data from December showed heavy truck traffic volumes in 2021 were below 2020 and 2019 levels.

The CSO bulletin also highlights data from the Road Safety Authority, which highlighted 134 fatalities on Irish roads in 2021, down 9.2% from 2020. Eighteen people died on Irish roads throughout December.

August was the month with the highest number of road deaths at 22, with the highest in a single month in the past three years.

The CSO said the bulletin would be updated regularly to assess the impact of Covid-19 on the transport sector.

He said the statistics had been collated using data from Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the Road Safety Authority, the National Transport Authority, Dublin City Council, the Office of Revenue Commissioners and the Department for Transport.

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