Almost 1m fewer passenger journeys were completed on Luas trams in Dublin this year compared to last, according to the Railway Procurement Agency.

The agency blamed the economic downturn for the passenger fall-off, but said that the figures were still encouraging.

It said that some 27.4m passenger journeys were completed so far this year, compared to 28.4m in 2007 and 25.8m in 2006.

The Green Luas line has remained firm with more than 12m journeys served in each of the three years, but there has been some volatility on the Red Line.

The numbers of passangers using monthly or annual tickets increased more than 50% in 2008, suggesting more people are taking advantage of the tax benefits.

Usage of the Luas Smartcard was up 28% and purchases of the Irish Rail/Luas integrated tickets were up 15%.