Public transport journeys pass 300m in a single year for the first time

Figures from 2023 show a record year for all modes of in the State, exceeding pre-pandemic levels

The number of passengers using public transport last year hit a record high and have now exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

More than 308 million passenger journeys were provided by Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, Luas, Go-Ahead Ireland and Local Link on Transport for Ireland Public Service Obligation (PSO) services in 2023 making it the busiest ever year on the State’s public transport network.

This is the first year ever that passenger numbers on PSO services have exceeded 300 million. The previous record number of journeys in 2019 was 294 million. Last year the total number of journeys was 249 million.

The preliminary figures represent an overall 24 per cent increase in passenger numbers during 2023 when compared with the previous year, and a 5 per cent increase above the previous record year in 2019.


Dublin Bus carried the largest number of passengers and accounted for almost half of all public transport journeys last year. The 145 million passengers it carried is a 20 per cent increase on the 121 million passengers it carried in 2022.

Bus Éireann served in excess of 44 million passengers during the past twelve months, a significant increase on the 35 million passengers who used its services the previous year.

Go-Ahead Ireland’s Dublin Metropolitan area bus services, served over 16 million passengers over the last twelve months compared to 12.5 million in 2022.

Luas carried 48.2 million passengers last year, a 25 per cent rise compared to the 38.6 million passengers in 2022.

Preliminary figures from Iarnród Éireann show rail passenger journeys in 2023 also grew significantly, as the post Covid recovery continues.

An estimated 45.5 million passenger journeys were made by rail during the past 12 months, up from 35.8 million in 2022, an increase of 27 per cent.

Local Link regular bus services, connecting towns and town lands in rural Ireland carried 3.2 million passengers in 2023, a 78 per cent increase on the 1.8 million passenger journeys in 2022.

Over 60 new and enhanced services were launched in towns and villages across Ireland, under the Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan last year. The annual patronage on TFI Local Link services has seen a seven-fold increase since 2018.

The Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said public transport had turned a “significant corner” in 2023.

The figures demonstrated that the public will responded once provided with enhanced, bus, train and tram facilities

“As new services are introduced people are talking with the feet and jumping on board which is hugely encouraging as lots of new services have been introduced allowing people to travel sustainably and to leave their cars at home,” he said.

The figures were provided by the National Transport Authority. Its chief executive Anne Graham said 60 new and enhanced bus services were introduced and the “passenger numbers speak for themselves”.

This included two significant phases of BusConnects which were launched in west Dublin to service areas including Tallaght, Liffey Valley, Lucan, Blanchardstown, Hazelhatch, Maynooth, and Celbridge.

In November, Phase 5b provided further connectivity in the same area.

She said: “Passenger numbers on these routes increased instantly and continues to grow, showing us the demand exists for these more direct, frequent and reliable services.”

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times