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Press Statement


31 August 2017

Census 2016 Profile 6 Commuting in Ireland

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 Almost 3 million people commuting daily

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) today (31st August 2017) publishes Census 2016 Profile 6 Commuting in Ireland.  The report shows that in April 2016 the number of people travelling to work, school or college stood at 2,962,550, an increase of 9.3% on the 2011 figure.  

There were 1,875,773 people commuting to work in April 2016, an increase of 10.7% on 2011.  There were large increases in bus and train use (up 22% and 19.7% respectively), while the number cycling to work rose by 43% on 2011.                                                                                                        

Commenting, Deirdre Cullen, Senior Statistician said: “This report presents detailed statistics on and analysis of the commuting patterns of workers and students in April 2016.  It examines how we travel to work, school and college; the times we leave to get there and the length of time we spend commuting.  It is particularly timely as we move into Autumn and the return of students to schools and colleges across the country.” 

Today’s full report is available on the CSO website at Census of Population 2016 - Profile 6 Commuting in Ireland

Highlights from Profile 6 – Commuting in Ireland

Car still the most common mode of transport for workers
In April 2016, 65.6% (1,229,966) of those commuting to work either drove or were passengers in a car.  While just under half of working commuters living in Dublin city and suburbs commuted by car, more than 6 in 10 did so in Cork and Limerick (city and suburbs).  In rural areas 7 in 10 people used the car to get to work.

Increase in bus and rail commuters
There were 111,436 commuters using the bus to get to work and 63,133 rail commuters.  Just over 9% (174,569) of working commuters  used public transport in April 2016, compared with 8.5% in 2011.  In Dublin city and suburbs 22% of working commuters used public transport (bus or train) compared with only 8% in Cork (city and suburbs). 

Significant increase in cycling
In April 2016, 56,837 people cycled to work, an increase of 43% since 2011.  Three quarters of these were males.  Two thirds of all cyclists were in Dublin city and suburbs, with 38,870 persons cycling to work.  In contrast, just 2,330 people cycled to work in Cork city and suburbs, 1,874 in Galway, 968 in Limerick,  and 395 in Waterford. 

Walkers comprise almost 10% of working commuters
The numbers walking to work increased by 4,570 to 175,080, accounting for 9.3% of the commuting population.  While those walking and cycling accounted for 22% of commuters in 1986 (196,750), this had fallen to just 12% (231,917) in April 2016. 

Primary school children
Among primary schoolchildren, 59.8% went to school by car, compared to 59.2% in 2011.  Commuting by bus fell by 7% on 2011.  Overall, those walking and cycling accounted for 25% of primary school commuters in 2016, compared with almost 50% in 1986. 

Secondary school children
Among secondary schoolchildren, 43.3% went to school by car, while 28.4% used the bus.  Over 42% of rural secondary students were reliant on the bus to get to school, compared to nearly 1 in 5 urban students. 

Third level
While driving was the most popular means of travel for third-level students in 2011, the numbers fell in 2016 to 44,771, accounting for 23.5% of college commuters.  The 45,943 third-level bus commuters accounted for 24% of all third-level commuters, an increase of 5,473 (13.5%) on the 2011 figure.  Walking was the most common means of travel to college, accounting for 26% of students (48,812). 

Travel times increasing
Commuting times rose in every county and the national average commuting time in April 2016 was 28.2 minutes, up from 26.6 minutes in 2011.  Commuters in counties bordering Dublin had the longest average commuting time, with those in Meath and Wicklow travelling for almost 35 minutes.

Almost 200,000 commuters, (1 in 10), spent an hour or more commuting to work, an increase of almost 50,000 (31%) on 2011.  Laytown-Bettystown-Mornington, where 28% of 4,565 workers were commuting an hour or more, had the highest percentage, followed by Skerries (1,092) and Greystones-Delgany (1,855).

In 2016 there were 81,897 parents with children under 15 who spent an hour or more commuting to work.  Of these 43,372 were parents of pre-school children, an increase of 8,000 (23%) on 2011.  In Wicklow, Meath, Laois, Kildare and Westmeath one in five parents of 0-4 year olds had a commute of over an hour.

The number of early leavers (before 7.00am) increased to 365,000 (+34%) since April 2011, with 25% of male commuters and 13% of females leaving before 7.00am. 

Increase in mobile workers and those working at home
There were 94,955 persons working 'mainly at or from home' in April 2016, an increase of 14%.  Over 174,000 workers stated that they had no fixed place of work, up 26,000 (18%) on 2011.

Increase in daytime working population
The number of people working in Dublin city and suburbs surpassed the half a million mark in 2016, with a daytime working population of 512,449, an increase of 9% on 2011.  Excluding mobile workers, Dublin city and suburbs accounted for 29% of the State's workforce. 

The workforce in Cork city and suburbs increased by 10.8% to 102,139 persons and in Limerick city and suburbs the workforce increased by 7.8% to 44,624.  Galway city and suburbs' workforce increased by 9.7% to 44,376 while Waterford city and suburbs increased by 4.5% to 24,375 workers.  These five urban areas combined account for 41% of all daytime workplace destinations (excluding mobile workers).

Cross border commuters
Census 2016 recorded people who crossed the border to Northern Ireland for work or school.  The number of workers crossing the border was 7,037 in 2016, up from 6,419 in 2011 (+10%).  The number of students stood at 2,299, down from 3,117 in 2011 (-26%). 

Working abroad
Some 3,531 people stated on the 2016 Census form that their place of work was outside the island of Ireland.  The most popular overseas working destination was Great Britain, with 2,144 commuting to England, Scotland and Wales, and a further 1,387 commuting elsewhere in the world. 

Editor's Note:
  • The full report is available on the CSO website at 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 them in an easy to use format for their own analysis.  
  • In co-operation with the All Ireland Research Observatory (AIRO) at NUI Maynooth, summary census data is available in thematic maps for Electoral Districts and all Small Areas on the AIRO website.  This can be accessed via the link on the CSO website. 
  • The census figures relate to the de facto population, i.e. the population recorded for each area represents the total of all persons present within its boundaries on the night of Sunday, 24 April 2016, together with all persons who arrived in that area on the morning of Monday, 25 April 2016, not having been enumerated elsewhere.  Persons on board ships in port are included with the population of adjacent areas.  The figures, therefore, include visitors present on Census Night as well as those in residence, while usual residents temporarily absent from the area are excluded.
  • The de facto measure of the population in April 2016 was 4,761,865 while the usually resident total was 4,689,921 - a difference of 71,944 or 1.5%.  The usually resident measure is used when analysing topics such as commuting patterns, nationality and households and families.
  • This is the sixth of the eleven thematic reports of Census 2016 results.  The CSO has also published two Summary Reports providing first results of all of the areas covered in the census.  The next profile report Profile 7 Migration and Diversity will be published on 21 September.  The remaining profile reports will address themes such as: Irish Travellers, ethnicity and religion and employment, occupations and industry.  The full release schedule, and all of the Census 2016 reports published to date, are available at
For further information contact:

Eileen Murphy (+353) 1 895 1443 or Census Enquiries (+353) 1 895 1460

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