Two-thirds of commuters drive
The dominance of the car as an Irish means of transportation has been underlined by the latest Census figures which show two out of every three commuters drove to work last year.
A total of 1.14 million people, 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.
The figures also showed six out of 10 primary pupils travel to school by car last year. One in four walked to school. In 1981 half of children walked to primary school.
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.
Driving is also the favourite mode of transport for third-level students, albeit marginally. Some 29 per cent of students drove to college in 2011, with 28 per cent walking and 5 per cent cycling.
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.
In contrast to the rising dependence on cars, the number of commuters using public buses fell by 23,277 between 2006 and 2011, a drop of 20 per cent.
This was countered by an increase in the number of commuters using a train, DART or Luas. 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.
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.
Public transport (bus, minibus, coach, train, DART and Luas) was most prevalent in Dublin, used by 93,034 commuters (21.5 per cent), 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.