Huge surge in public transport use as trips up 10 million in 2016
Ireland is increasingly turning to public transport, with passenger numbers up 10 million last year, figures reveal.
Irish Rail, Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus all saw a rise in business during 2016 - the fourth year in a row overall numbers were up.
There was a slight drop in the numbers travelling on the Luas but transport chiefs have blamed the dip on industrial action and the partial closure of the Red Line in central Dublin for six weeks in the summer.
Anne Graham, chief executive of the National Transport Authority (NTA), said the figures for 2016 showed a clear demand for public transport.
"Additional funding has been provided by the Government this year to subsidise public transport which means we can begin to identify ways of increasing capacity in existing Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann services," she said.
"But public transport is not simply a matter of concern in Dublin. In fact, a properly functioning public transport system is a key issue nationally, when it comes to promoting balanced regional economic development, preventing social isolation and protecting the environment."
The latest end-of-year figures show:
l Dublin Bus carried more than 125 million passengers last year, up almost 5pc.
l Irish Rail passenger numbers soared nearly 8pc including Dart, Commuter and Inter-City services.
l Bus Eireann saw customer numbers rise 1.7 million to nearly 32 million.
l Luas numbers were down from 34.6 million to 34.1 million.
Overall, State-subsidised public transport passenger numbers are up by more than 4.4pc or almost 10 million.
Looking to the year ahead, Ms Graham said roads needed to be upgraded to improve bus services.
"There is real concern about the increasing problem of road congestion which impacts on bus reliability," she said.
"NTA believes that there is a need to greatly improve the infrastructure to offer higher priority for buses in Dublin and the regional cities and in 2017 we will be bringing forward plans to do just that."
Transport Minister Shane Ross said the passenger figures showed a "welcome sign of general economic activity".