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Census 2011 Results


Profile 10 Door to Door – Commuting in Ireland



The Central Statistics Office today released the final publication in its series of Census 2011 profile reports, showing that a total of 1,136,615 persons, representing 69 per cent of commuters travelled to work by car in April 2011.


Today’s publication, “Profile 10 Door to Door – Commuting in Ireland”, presents a profile of the commuting patterns of the Irish population and covers modes of travel, journey times and time of departure for both workers and students. 


Deirdre Cullen, Senior Statistician at the CSO: “This report provides further analysis of an extremely important theme from the Census 2011 results. It examines commuter numbers, looking at means of transport, departure times and time spent travelling for both workers and students.”


The full report is available on the CSO website at along with all the data which is available in a range of interactive web tables, allowing users to build their own tables by selecting the data they are interested in and downloading it in an easy to use format for their own analysis. In co-operation with the All Ireland Research Observatory (AIRO) summary census data is now available in thematic maps for Electoral Districts and all Small Areas, including a mapping tool to portray travel to work catchment areas for large towns and cities in Ireland. Combined with the release of the SAPS data in our new easy to use interactive mapping application, these new developments bring census data alive in a fresh and exciting way, making it easier to access for all. Just follow the link from the website.”


Ms Cullen concluded “This report provides an insight into the commuting patterns of the Irish people in 2011, containing yet more analysis and results from Census 2011 on this very important theme.”


Highlights of the report


Two out of every three commuters drove to work in 2011


A total of 1,136,615 persons, representing 69 per cent of commuters, either drove to work or were a passenger in a car in 2011. This compared to 498,646 persons or 57 per cent of commuters in 1981.


Public transport users


The number of commuters using public buses fell by 23,277 between 2006 and 2011, a fall of 20 per cent. The number of commuters using a train, DART or Luas rose significantly between 1981 and 2011. Almost 40,000 more people took a train to work in 2011 than 30 years previously, doubling the share of commuters using the train from 1.7 per cent to 3.2 per cent.


Commuters cycling and walking to work


Between 2006 and 2011 there was a 9.6 per cent rise in the number of persons cycling from 36,306 to 39,803. A total of 170,510 commuters walked to work, accounting for 10.5 per cent of all commuters in 2011.


More female car drivers than males


The number of female car drivers (551,638) surpassed male car drivers (515,813) among the working population for the first time with seven out of every ten women driving to work in 2011 compared with six out of ten male commuters.


More women walked to work (96,796) than men (73,714). Men accounted for the majority of those cycling with 29,075 (73%), while the majority of public transport commuters were women (55.5%).


City Commuters


Public transport (bus, minibus, coach, train, DART and Luas) was most prevalent in Dublin, used by 93,034 commuters (21.5%), compared with just 6.8 per cent in Cork, 6.4 per cent in Galway, 4.4 per cent in Limerick and only 1.8 per cent of commuters living in rural areas.


More commuters walked to work in Galway with 17 per cent walking, compared to 14.5 per cent in Dublin and Waterford and just 4.6 per cent in rural areas.


In Cork, Waterford and Limerick over 70 per cent of commuters relied on a car or motorcycle to get to work, compared to just 54.7 per cent in Dublin. Cycling to work was most popular in Dublin with 5.9 per cent, followed by Galway at 4.9 per cent.


Time spent travelling


The average time spent travelling to work in 2011 was 26.6 minutes, a decrease from 27.5 minutes recorded in 2006. One in ten workers travelled for 60 minutes or more in 2011, in contrast to one in eight workers in 2006.


A greater proportion of workers living in counties that are within commuting distance of Dublin tended to take longer to arrive at their place of employment. More than one in seven commuters residing in Fingal, Laois, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow had travel times of an hour or longer to their job.


Over 6 per cent of persons at work who resided in Laois spent 90 minutes or more commuting while 5 per cent of workers living in Longford, Cavan and Offaly had daily commuting times of more than an hour and a half travelling to their place of employment.


Those with travel times of 15 minutes or less were found mostly in Waterford City, followed by Donegal (42%), Kerry and Mayo (both 40%). Dublin City had the smallest percentage of commuters with travel times of 15 minutes or less with just 18% of commuters.


The number of parents with children aged under five who spent an hour or more commuting to work was 35,345, of whom 13,032 were female.


Time leaving home


Workers leaving for their job before 06:30 a.m. had an average travel time to work of 42 minutes in April 2006. Five years later the corresponding average travel time had dropped to 36 minutes. However commuters leaving from 07:30 a.m. onwards in 2011 had similar travel times compared with 2006, taking an average of around 27 minutes in the period between 07:30 and 08:30 a.m.


Differences were observed in the departure times of male and female commuters, as men generally began their journeys at an earlier time, with 55.5 per cent of male commuters leaving before 08:00 a.m. compared to just 38.3 per cent of female workers. Working women with children under 18 years of age tended to leave later than other female commuters.


Dublin’s commuter belt


The daytime working population of Dublin City and suburbs in April 2011 was 469,987, of which 117,764 commuted from outside the area to work in the city, representing a quarter of the city’s workforce. The highest number of commuters were from Fingal (27,064), followed by Kildare (25,237), Meath (19,863) and Wicklow (17,300). These four counties combined comprised 76 per cent of all workers with a daily commute into Dublin.


At town level, Swords was the biggest contributor to the city’s workforce, with 7,112 daily commuters, followed by Bray (5,975), Celbridge (4,256), Greystones (3,689) and Malahide (3,573). Almost 70 per cent of Dublin’s 117,764 commuters travelled by car, while a further 14 per cent used the train and 9 per cent availed of bus services.


The average travel time for these commuters in 2011 was 50 minutes, almost twice the national average of 26.6 minutes. Half of commuters to Dublin left for their place of work before 07:30 a.m.


Mobile workers and Working at home


Over 148,000 workers indicated that they had no fixed place of work, a 29 per cent decline since 2006. Over half (57%) of mobile workers were employees while 43 per cent were self-employed.  


A total of 83,326 persons indicated that they worked mainly at or from home in 2011, a decrease from 105,706 (21%) since 2006.


Six out of ten children driven to primary school


A total of 296,711 (61%) of students aged 5-12 years travelled to school by car in 2011. One in four primary students (118,523) walked to school, compared to half of children walking to primary school in 1981. One in five children in rural areas travelled by bus, compared with just 7 per cent for those living in urban areas.


The average travel time for primary students was 11.6 minutes in 2011.


Car the main mode of travel for secondary students


For the first time more secondary students travelled to school by car than by bus with around 40 per cent of students (126,172) travelling by car in April 2011, compared with 30 per cent (96,153) by bus. Less than 74,000 secondary school children walked to school in 2011, 28 per cent fewer than 15 years previously. Similarly there has been a decline in secondary school students cycling to school, from a peak of 50,648 in 1986 to 6,592 in 2011, a fall of 87 per cent.


Secondary school students who travelled to school on foot had an average journey time of 13.6 minutes, with car passengers averaging 14.4 minutes and bus journeys taking an average of 28.2 minutes.


Driving to college prevalent among third level students


More students travelled to college as car drivers compared with any other means of travel in 2011. A total of 53,606 (29%) students drove to college in 2011, with 51,959 (28%) walking and 8,530 (5%) cycling. One fifth of students living in Dublin travelled to college by car compared with over 46 per cent of students who lived outside Dublin.



For copies of the publication:

To view and download the publication, visit the CSO website at


For further information contact:

Shaun McLaughlin on (01) 895 1474

Central Statistics Office, Swords Business Campus, Balheary Road, Swords, Co. Dublin.

Census Enquiries: (01) 895 1460

Fax: 01 895 1399





Central Statistics Office                                                                 13 December 2012


– ENDS –