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Means of Travel to Work

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Figure 2.1 presents the means of travel of those commuting to work over the past thirty years.

Not statedOther means (incl. lorry or van)Motor car: PassengerMotorcycle or scooterTrain, DART or LUASBus, minibus or coachBicycleOn footMotor car: Driver

Increased car drivers

In the State overall, 61.4 per cent of working commuters drove to work in 2016. Car drivers increased from 402,878 in 1986 to 1,152,631 in 2016, an increase of 749,753 drivers or 186 per cent. The number of commuting car passengers reduced over the same period, from 89,831 in 1986 to 77,335 in 2016, a reduction of almost 14 per cent or 12,496 car passengers.

Census 2011 was the first time female drivers commuting surpassed male drivers and that trend continued in 2016 as female drivers increased by 39,289 (7.1%) to 590,927. Male drivers increased by 45,891 (8.9%) to 561,704.

Figure 2.2 illustrates the percentage of male commuters and the percentage of female commuters who travelled to work as car drivers and car passengers between 1986 and 2016.

Vans/lorries were used by 137,622 (7.3%) of the commuting population, with just 2.3 per cent (3,101) being women.

Driver MaleDriver FemalePassenger MalePassenger Female

Public transport used by almost 175,000 workers

Workers who commuted by bus reached 111,436 in 2016, almost 20,000 more than in 2011, the highest increase in bus use in over 30 years, albeit still below the peak of almost 115,000 in 2006. In 1986, 1 in 10 commuters travelled to work by bus, compared with just 1 in 17 in 2016.

Rail commuters also saw a similar increase, a rise of almost 20 per cent from 52,749 in 2011 to 63,133 in 2016. This continued the expansion we've seen over the last 20 years, with an almost threefold (292.2%) increase on the 16,096 rail commuters in 1986.

Combined, bus and train public transport was the choice of just under 10 per cent (174,569) of commuters in 2016 down from over 12 per cent (109,432) in 1986.

Bus, minibus or coachTrain, DART or LUAS

Walking to work

The numbers walking to work in 2016 increased to 175,080, up by 4,570 persons from 2011, although walkers accounted for less than 1 in 10 of the commuting population compared with 15 per cent in 1986. In 2016, almost 55 per cent of commuting walkers were women, with 45 per cent male, the opposite of 1986 when men accounted for 51.4 per cent.

It's a Fact

  • 9% - of commuters walk to work.
  • 66% - of commuters travel to work by car (drivers and passengers).
  • 53% - of worker public transport users are female.

Motorcyclists declining overall, but female motorcyclists increase

The number of motorcyclists continued to decline. Figure 2.4 shows motorcycle commuters reached a peak of 17,329 in 2002 and have declined since to the current number of 7,990, a reduction of 54 per cent, but the number of women motorcyclists has increased from 1,111 in 2011 to 1,250, an increase of 13 per cent.


Interactive table: StatBank Link E6010

It's a Fact

  • 1,152,631 - Cars drove to work in 2016.
  • 29,223 - more women driving to work than men.
  • 3,101 (2%) - van/lorry drivers and 1,250 (16%) of motorcyclists are women.

Cycling to work

One of the most notable changes in commuting patterns between 2011 and 2016 was the sharp rise in the number of people who cycled to work, the numbers rose by nearly 43 per cent from 39,803 to 56,837.

Figure 2.5 shows the numbers of male and female cyclists at each census since 1986. The number of cyclists peaked in 1986 at 60,750, when cyclists made up 6.8 per cent of the commuting population; however, while the 2016 numbers were again close to the 1986 peak, cyclists only accounted for 3 per cent of commuters.

Change in 20162011


Map 2.1 Persons cycling to work by electoral division, 2016

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The largest increase in cycling to work was found among younger workers aged 15 – 24, a rise of 81 per cent to 4,682 and representing 8 per cent of all cyclists. Indeed those under 40 made up almost 60 per cent of all cyclists, although they represented only 48 per cent of the commuting workforce.

Despite not being as common among older members of the workforce, cycling did grow in popularity among workers over 40 with an almost 43 per cent increase in the number of cyclists in this age group, growing to 23,556 in 2016.

70+ 1.030.68

Cyclists by social class

Figure 2.8 presents cyclists by social class.

While professional workers made up 9 per cent of the working commuting population, they accounted for 16 per cent of those cycling to work; managerial and technical workers accounted for 31 per cent of the working commuters, yet 34 per cent of cyclists. Skilled manual workers were underrepresented among cyclists, possibly through the need to commute by van, or to carry tools and equipment.

0% Commuters% Cyclists
Professional workers8.6262037037530715.5849182750673
Managerial and technical31.05237147565334.1238981649278
Skilled manual15.663515787891210.683181730211
All other gainfully occupied and unknown6.247877541685483.57689533226595

Interactive table: StatBank Link E6043


Non-Irish nationals accounted for 27 per cent of all cycling commuters although they made up only 15 per cent of the commuting working population. Brazilians were the nationality with the highest proportion of cyclists with 14 per cent of Brazilian commuters cycling to work, followed by Spanish (11%) and Italian (10%) commuters.

Geographical differences

Figure 2.9 presents the means of travel by urban type.

In Dublin city and suburbs, public transport (bus or train) was used by 21.5 per cent of commuters, 109,401 persons. This fell to just 8.5 per cent in Cork city and suburbs with just 7,166 persons using public transport to get to work. There were just 2,591 users of public transport in Galway city and suburbs, 1,733 in Limerick and only 543 in Waterford, which represented just 3 per cent of commuters.

Outside the cities, in towns of 10,000 and over, 8.9 per cent used public transport, along with 7.6 per cent of commuters in smaller towns (5,000 to 9,999) and in rural areas, only 2 per cent of commuters used public transport.

Not statedOther means (incl. lorry or van)Motor car: PassengerMotorcycle or scooterTrain, DART or LUASBus, minibus or coachBicycleOn footMotor car: Driver
Dublin City and suburbs6.356759946884383.118674076624212.747651600845920.7695863866620767.9401957409137913.58166527320127.6466827325038113.209265725667644.629518516697
Cork City and suburbs4.579791138790884.29681024888115.278363210116270.4511117952118210.3966468540576388.08804376139622.7587676715053613.571242511070660.5792228089701
Limerick City and suburbs6.857643963753293.633440514469455.916398713826370.3244665302543120.1783104355451624.887459807073952.8295819935691315.007307804735560.3653902367729
Galway City and suburbs6.022985680044253.291131460881325.20250752873210.3441706102882430.1905230164095637.771495298383635.7587118185729216.378833507467355.0396410792207
Waterford City and suburbs5.855947765762094.335849826566017.819832687206690.3927769842889210.234645990614162.535196898592122.014894919404213.303407467863763.5074474597021
Towns 10,000 and over 4.534606990852445.107357873843395.404924999259370.3637297274166633.898985177602155.012228560519031.9466946678209511.340467483220762.3910045194653
Towns 5,000 - 9,9993.928219526869726.111629448130935.65994960020230.3487875273580223.75556970082753.837534769756631.3035933835006110.146229170844964.9084868725094
Towns 3,000 - 4,9993.819952762975547.028947317054135.473248619000210.3279264507817531.879721262516842.937674454919871.106751771388429.8280338076555267.5977435537077
Towns 1,500 - 2,9994.22090475576757.876337156850115.429179017914680.2754865317695580.6766335868024232.213558448253640.9553421832710410.953408944451667.3991493749195
Urban Total5.325941720441124.431416722134044.357010608445470.5315784171069654.82285399059568.512108954994624.3773257071884112.354387813583455.2873760655104
Rural Total 4.3943680614152612.62854383914593.696316919129250.2335861719392770.7117384195857421.257575005527550.5762193333543913.8321368246419172.6695154252607

Interactive table: StatBank Link E6013

Galway city and suburbs had the highest number of walkers proportionally, at 16.4 per cent (5,330), followed by Dublin, Cork and Waterford with nearly 14 per cent.

In rural areas only 4 per cent of the commuting population walked to work.

Two thirds of all those who cycled to work were in Dublin city and suburbs, with 38,870 persons, where it represented 7.6 per cent of commuters. In contrast the number of people who cycled to work in Cork city and suburbs stood at just 2,330, this accounted for just 3 per cent of all working commuters. Only 395 persons cycled to work in Waterford city and suburbs in April 2016. In rural areas and all towns with less than 10,000 persons less than 1 per cent of the commuting population cycled to work. 

Just under half of Dublin city and suburbs workers commute by car, which is the lowest across the State. The highest car use was in rural areas, where 76 per cent of commuters used the car to get to work.

It's a Fact

  • 33 - the most common age for cycling to work for both sexes.
  • 34 - the most common age for males cycling to work.
  • 31 - the most common age for females cycling to work.