The Northern Ireland Transport Statistics 2020-2021 statistical report has been published today

Date published: 30 September 2021

The latest edition of Northern Ireland Transport Statistics, containing statistics for 2020-2021, is now available.

Statistical press release

This compendium publication is produced by the Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch (ASRB) of the Department for Infrastructure and contains information on the road network, public transport and accessible transport in Northern Ireland.  The publication is available on the DfI website.


The key points for 2020-21 are:

Road Network

  • At 1 April 2021, there were 25,790 kilometres of public road in Northern Ireland.  Unclassified roads accounted for the largest proportion (61%) of all roads followed by C roads (18%), B roads (11%), A roads (9%) and Motorways (less than 1%).
  • Analysis of the urban/ rural split of the road network reveals that 23% of carriageway road lengths are urban (speed limit of 40 mph or less) and 77% are rural (speed limit of more than 40 mph). 
  • During 2020-21, new construction and improvement accounted for 32% of the £450 million spend on our roads.  Maintenance (structural, routine and winter) accounted for 30% of the money spent, while public lighting accounted for 3%.  There was an increase of less than 1% in expenditure on the roads when compared to 2019-20 (£447 million).

Public Transport

  • At the end of 2020-21, there were 1,089 Ulsterbuses, 280 Metro buses and 32 Gliders on the roads which were, on average, 10.2 years, 8.5 years and 2.7 years old respectively.
  • From late March 2020 and during the reporting year 2020-21 there were movement restrictions in place across Northern Ireland due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This has resulted in a reduction in passenger journeys on public transport during 2020-21 when compared to previous years.
  • The number of staff employed at the end of March 2021 was 2,183 (Ulsterbus), 772 (Metro) and 105 (Glider); the corresponding figures for March 2020 were higher at 2,256 (Ulsterbus), 795 (Metro) and 109 (Glider).
  • During 2020-21, there were a total of 25.7 million bus and rail passenger journeys; 22.4 million bus passenger journeys (Ulsterbus, Metro and Glider), a decrease of 67% from 2019-20 (68.3 million), and 3.3 million rail passenger journeys, a decrease of 78% from 2019-20 (15.1 million).
  • Of the 22.4 million bus passenger journeys during 2020-21, 12.2 million were on Ulsterbus, a decrease of 68% from 2019-20 (37.9 million) and 7.5 million were on Metro, a decrease of 67% since 2019-20 (22.7 million), 2.7 million passenger journeys were on Glider services, a decrease of  65% since 2019-20 (7.7 million).
  • The number of NI Rail staff employed at the end of March 2021 was 992, compared with 1,005 at the end of March 2020.

Transport and Disability

  • At 31 March 2021, 346,494 SmartPasses were held by eligible people in Northern Ireland, of these 330,437 SmartPasses were held by older people (60+ SmartPass and Senior (65+) SmartPass).  The percentage of SmartPasses used at least once during 2020-21 was 29% (99,684) much lower than in the previous year 71% (245,577). This decrease is as a result of the fall in passenger numbers due to the travel restrictions in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • At 31 March 2021, 1,329 buses and coaches were used as Public Service Vehicles in Northern Ireland, an increase of 1% from 31 March 2020 (1,310).  Of the 1,329 buses and coaches, 1,163 (88%) were low-floor wheelchair accessible buses and 166 (12%) were wheelchair accessible coaches. 
  • At 31 March 2021, 143 railway carriages were used as Public Service Vehicles in Northern Ireland; this was equivalent to the figure at 31 March 2020.  Of the 143 railway carriages used as Public Service Vehicles, all (100%) were wheelchair accessible.
  • In 2017-2019, just over one sixth (18%) of persons aged 16 and over, who were surveyed in the Travel Survey for Northern Ireland, reported having a mobility difficulty. On average those with a mobility difficulty made 574 journeys per year in 2017-2019, 42% less than those without a mobility difficulty (997 journeys per year).


Notes to editors: 

  1. Background to Transport Statistics Publication
  • Northern Ireland Transport Statistics is an annual compendium publication and contains a variety of transport information.  The management information and statistics are collated from DfI, DfI Roads and Translink.
  1. Official Statistics                                                                                               
  • This is a National Statistics publication and therefore follows the Code of Practice for Statistics.  You can find further information about the Code of Practice.
  1. Additional Information

For more information relating to this publication, including alternative formats, please contact:

Analysis, Statistics and Research Branch,
Room 4.13c,
Clarence Court,
10 - 18 Adelaide Street,
  1. All media queries should be directed to the Department for Infrastructure Press Office at:
  2. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hour’s service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
  3. Follow us on Twitter @deptinfra and on Facebook @DepartmentforInfrastructure

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