Number of vehicles on Irish roads reaches record levels

Overall number of people who walk to work nationally continues to fall

The number of vehicles on Irish roads has reached its highest level to date, with a total 2.68 million vehicles, including 2.1 million cars, using the State’s roads last year, according to the latest Transport Trends report.

The Department of Transport’s annual overview of the sector noted that emissions from the transport sector increased by 4 per cent to 12.29 tonnes of CO2 in 2016. More than half of emissions in 2016 came from private vehicles and 26 per cent from goods vehicles. Transport is the third-largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the State following agriculture and energy.

The number of people commuting to work grew to 1.88 million in 2016, up 5 per cent on 2006, while 65.6 per cent of commuters used their private car to get to work in 2016 (1.23 million people).

The number of passengers using main public transport services such as Dublin Bus, Irish Rail, Bus Éireann and the Luas increased by 7 per cent to more than 252 million in 2017, with over half the people entering Dublin city centre on a typical November morning in 2017 using public transport. The number of people cycling to work in 2016 grew by 43 per cent to 56,837.



Following six years of strong growth the number of Dublinbikes users dropped by 6 per cent in 2017 to 4.1 million. Dublinbikes is a self-service bike-rental system which uses docking stations located across Dublin.

Even though active travel and use of public transport have increased in recent years, the pattern is reversed for all areas outside Dublin.

In Dublin, the number of cyclists entering the city more than doubled between 2010 and 2017, while the number of people walking into the city centre grew by 60 per cent during the same time period.

However, the overall number of people walking to work nationally has steadily fallen in recent years, dropping from 15.2 per cent of commuters in 1986 to 9.3 per cent in 2016. In 2006 a total of 2 per cent of people cycled to work. By 2016 this had risen to just 3 per cent of commuters

Commuters living in counties bordering Dublin had the longest journeys averaging nearly 35 minutes in Meath and Wicklow while people living in Galway city, Donegal, Sligo and Cork city had the shortest commutes, averaging about 22 minutes. There were 157 road deaths in 2017, the lowest since records began and 16 per cent drop on 2016.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast