Dublin car traffic volumes still below pre-Covid levels, CSO figures show

Public transport journey volumes rise while motor fuel clearances remain lower

Private car traffic volumes in Dublin remained below pre-pandemic levels in November with public transport journeys on the rise, Central Statistics Office (CSO) data indicated on Tuesday.

In its latest transport bulletin, the statistical agency also noted that passenger volumes at Irish airports remained slightly below the levels observed in November 2019, before the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in early 2020.

For the last week in November, car traffic volumes in the capital were 5 per cent lower than the same month in 2019, “only slightly below” pre-pandemic levels, the CSO said. Regional traffic, meanwhile, remained 7 per cent lower in the final week of the month compared with the same week in 2019.

There is also some indication from the data that the price of petrol and diesel, which has soared 16.5 per cent over the 12 months to the end of October, has dented demand for motor fuel.


At 298 million litres, clearances of motor diesel were 11 per cent lower than the same month last year and 8 per cent lower than pre-pandemic October 2019. Clearances of petrol, meanwhile, were 6 per cent lower than October 2021 at 79 million litres and 10 per cent lower than the same month in 2019.

However, both petrol and diesel clearances recovered sharply from October 2020 when demand was suppressed by public-health restrictions.

Public transport

While private car volumes remain lower, public transport in the capital continued to recover from the pandemic.

The number of Dublin Bus trips taken in November was broadly in line with November 2019, the CSO said, while the number of bus journeys taken outside of Dublin exceeded pre-pandemic levels by 13 per cent.

Luas journeys for the week commencing November 21st, meanwhile, were “nearly in line” with the same week in 2019, 69 per cent in advance of the same week in 2021 and more than three times higher than the same week in 2020 when Covid-related public health restrictions were in effect.

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Some 810,472 passengers travelled on Irish Rail services in the same week, down slightly on the 851,347 passengers who travelled by rail in the first week of pre-Covid March 2020. There is no comparable data for 2019, the CSO said.

The latest figures – drawn from data collected by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the Road Safety Authority, the National Transport Authority, Dublin City Council, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Transport – could be taken as a sign that the Government’s decision to lower public transport fares by 20 per cent has increased take-up.

International travel

Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) traffic volumes, both in the capital and regionally, were also 6 per cent in advance of November 2019.

Meanwhile, despite a sharp recovery in international travel since the lifting of restrictions over the past 12 months, the CSO data also indicate that the volume of passengers travelling through Irish airports remained slightly below pre-Covid levels, a trend that has been observed throughout the year.

There were more than 2.4 million passengers handled by the Dublin, Cork and Knock airports in November 2022 compared with just under 2.5 million for the same month in 2019, a 2 per cent decline.

However, this was one and a half times higher than last November when international travel was still severely restricted.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times