Higher costs push Dublin Bus to small pretax loss for 2022

Passenger numbers rebound sharply as Covid impact recedes but driver shortage hits services

Higher costs associated with the expansion of services following a redesign of its network pushed Dublin Bus to a small pretax loss of €611,000 in 2022 despite a sharp rebound in the number of passenger journeys.

In its annual report, the chairman of the public transport operator, Gary Owens, also said that shortages of drivers last year due to “a highly competitive labour market” resulted in some services “failing to operate”.

Dublin Bus carried 121 million passengers in 2022, up from about 70 million in 2020 and 2021, but still below pre-Covid 2019 when 140 million people used the network. A spokesman for the company, the largest by passenger volumes within the State-owned CIÉ group, said it expects to surpass the 140 million mark in 2023.

Since 2021, passenger fare revenues are no longer represented in the profit and loss account for Dublin Bus as they are remitted to the National Transport Authority.


However, total revenues surpassed €310.1 million, a 14 per cent increase on 2021, with the company’s public services obligation payment for the year increasing to €303.3 million from €269.7 million in 2021. Commercial revenues, mostly from the operation of the DoDublin bus tour service, also increased sharply from €1.5 million in 2021 to €5.4 million last year as it returned to more normal service following the pandemic.

Commercial services operated at “reduced levels in 2022 as the company assessed future commercial opportunities”, the directors noted in the report. They said the board is satisfied that the company has sufficient resources to fund commercial services in 2023 and 2024.

Direct costs, meanwhile, jumped by more than 14 per cent to €310.3 million from €270.8 million due to the expansion of Dublin Bus services under the BusConnects network redesign as well as the implementation of a new pay agreement last year.

The company’s wage bill swelled from €168.5 million in 2021 to almost €195.6 million last year, an increase of 16 per cent, as it increased its headcount from 3,642 to 3,771 in the year.

In his foreword to the report, Mr Owens said driver recruitment “started to feel the impact of a highly competitive labour market” which “resulted in some services failing to operate due to driver shortages”.

“The company has taken several additional steps to boost driver numbers and our employees are working hard to minimise the effect of driver recruitment challenges. Despite the challenges faced by Bus Átha Cliath, we delivered 96 per cent of our services for customers.”

Overall, Dublin Bus reported a small pretax loss of €611,000 in 2022, down from a €5.8 million profit in 2021, mostly to do with one-off income related to the writing back of a provision set aside to cover the cost of a contractual dispute that was settled in 2021.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times