The number of passengers using commercial bus services in Ireland rose last year by 84%, according to new figures from the National Transport Authority (NTA).
The report shows there were almost 19 million passenger journeys on licensed public bus services in 2022, but that is still well below the 30 million seen in 2019, before the pandemic.
The NTA states that public health measures introduced due to Covid-19 meant that both passenger demand and bus capacity were curtailed and, as a result, many commercial bus operators ceased to provide services or reduced their service levels due to the financial losses that would be incurred by continuing to operate in full.
In May last year, fares on Dublin Bus, Luas, Go-Ahead Ireland and Iarnród Éireann's DART and Commuter services dropped by 20%.
Brendan Crowley, Managing Director of Wexford Bus and spokesperson for the Coach Tourism and Transport Council of Ireland, called for that reduction to also apply to those using commercial bus services.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said that 40% of all public transport buses are provided by commercial companies.
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
Mr Crowley added that anyone who relies on a commercial company to provide public transport outside greater Dublin cannot avail of that reduction in fares.
"We (commercial providers) have to be included in any such measures," he said.
When a budgetary measure is brought in, he said, it is for the whole country, not for a section of the community or one group.
"The Government have an opportunity to say that 20% can be applied across the service," he said.