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Sustainable Mobility and Transport 2021

CSO statistical publication, , 11am

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The National Travel Survey is a household survey that focusses primarily on the travel behaviour of respondents and prior to 2021, was most recently carried out two years previous, in 2019. In both years, it was carried out using the General Household Survey. However, in 2021, the mode of data collection changed to CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interviewing), while in 2019, face-to-face interviews were used.

When the last National Travel Survey was carried out in the fourth quarter of 2019, it was pre COVID-19. A global pandemic occurred in the intervening years between the 2019 survey and the National Travel Survey of 2021. When the survey was carried out in the fourth quarter of 2021, society and the economy had started to return to normal. Non-essential retail and hospitality had returned with certain restrictions still in place, children and older students had returned to schools, colleges and places of higher education, and remained open notwithstanding some school closures owing to local outbreaks of COVID-19, and people had started to return to work, many on a phased and/or blended working basis.

This publication is the second in a series of four publications presenting the results of the National Travel Survey (NTS), which was carried out in the fourth quarter of 2021. This publication focusses on sustainable mobility such as walking and cycling as modes of travel, and sustainable transport including public transport and electric vehicles, and the facilitators and inhibitors to these modes of transport. The first publication in the series ‘Travel Behaviour Trends 2021’ which was published on 10th June, reported on the travel behaviour of respondents, including when they are most likely to travel, preferred modes of transport and purpose of their trips, distance and duration. The third publication in the series ‘Passenger Mobility and Road Safety 2021’ will be published on 8th July, and will focus on passenger mobility and road safety. The fourth and last publication ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Travel Behaviour’ will concentrate on how COVID-19 has impacted our travel behaviour, and will be published on 19th July.

The NTS results will be used to compile statistical indicators across a broad spectrum of transport indicators, including for journey purpose and modes of travel, which will help monitor the implementation of existing transport policy and will inform future transport initiatives.

To ensure that data was collected for all seven days of the week, each person participating in the NTS was assigned a selected ‘travel reference day’. The travel reference day was a maximum of three days prior to the day on which the interview was conducted to ensure that recall was not compromised.

Only travel within the island of Ireland, made by residents of the State, was included in the survey. While the NTS collected information on work related travel for most occupations, it excluded the business related travel of professional drivers (e.g., bus and taxi drivers) and other occupations where travel is integral to the role (e.g., postal delivery workers). It is important to note, when interpreting the figures and comparing them to other data sources, that the NTS journey purpose of 'work' includes both commuter and business travel.

The NTS survey data is collected from individuals in private households aged 18 years and over. Data on travel behaviour is collected from just one person per household. Institutional households, (e.g., nursing homes, barracks, boarding schools, hotels, etc.) are not covered by the survey.

It is also worth noting that the results contained in this publication are based on travel patterns for a particular quarter (Q4), which may not be fully representative of the year as a whole. Therefore, particular care should be taken when interpreting the results, especially if extrapolating them to annualised results. For further guidelines on using the NTS data, please refer to the Background Notes.

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  • Electric vehicle (EV) ownership has more than doubled since the survey was last carried out in the fourth quarter of 2019 – 3.2% of respondents stated that they own an electric vehicle in 2021, compared with 1.5% of respondents in 2019. See Table 2.3.
  • By far the most common type of EV is the conventional hybrid (45.3%), while one third of EV owners had a fully electric EV, and over one in five (21.7%) had a plug-in hybrid. See Table 2.4.
  • The most common deterrent to buying an EV is the purchase price (63.3%), while over one in five (21.1%) said that no or limited access to home charging was an issue, and a public charging infrastructure that is easily accessible and affordable was cited by nearly three in ten (29.3%) of persons who do not own an EV. See Table 2.6.
  • Use of public transport decreased in 2021. Nearly six in ten (58.6%) respondents never use the bus, while six in ten (60%) never use rail services (train, DART, Luas). By comparison, in the same period in 2019, just over half (51%) of respondents never travelled by rail, while less than half (48.5%) never used the bus. See Tables 3.1 and 3.2.
  • No service nearby and no service to where I want to go are the main reasons for not using public transport. Over four in ten (41.7%) respondents who use rail services less than weekly said that there was no service nearby, compared with nearly three in ten (28.8%) persons who use bus services less than once a week, while 27.8% of people who use the bus less than once a week said that there was no service to where they wanted to go, compared with 27.6% of less than weekly rail users. See Tables 3.3 and 3.5.
  • Active travel is on the increase, with more persons walking and cycling and more frequently - 46.5% of respondents walked at least five times a week, an increase of eight percentage points on the same period in 2019 (38.5%). Although smaller numbers are cycling as a form of active travel, one in twenty-five (4%) cycled at least five times a week, up from 2.2% in 2019. See Tables 4.1 and 5.1.
  • Nearly half (48.2%) of walking trips were for the purpose of leisure or exercise – 49.4% of males and slightly more (51.1%) for females. For people who walk less than weekly, personal safety concerns were cited by 17.8% of females, double that of males (7.5%). See Tables 4.2 and 4.4.
  • There is a high reliance on car for those who use public transport infrequently. Of persons who used public transport (bus/rail) less than monthly, nearly eight in ten had travelled by car at least three times a week – 63.6% had travelled by car at least five times a week, while 15.1% had made a journey by car (as driver/passenger) three to four times a week. See Table 6.1.
  • Nearly half (46.8%) of respondents who use public transport less than monthly or never, reside in thinly populated areas, where there may be less availability of and less frequency of public transport. Of these, six in ten (59.8%) say that they use a car as there is no other alternative. See Tables 6.1 and 6.2.
  • For over three quarters (76.4%) of journeys to work by car as driver, there was no alternative mode of travel to using the car for going to work. Just 2.8% said that they could get a lif or car-pool. See Table 7.1.

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