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Car is still king as two thirds of commuters drive to work daily

THE car is still king when it comes to commuting, even though cycling and train travel are increasingly popular.

New census figures show that two thirds of commuters (69pc) now travel by car every day, up from 57pc in 1981, while the number of students driving has also soared.

And women drivers outnumber males ones with over 551,000 females driving to work each day compared to 516,000 men.

Women are also more likely to walk or take public transport, but men are three times more likely to cycle than women.

Cycling to work is up 10pc in the last five years, but men account for 73pc of the 40,000 cyclist commuters.

The gender divide is even more noticeable in Ireland's schools where cycling is down dramatically, but is practically extinct amongst girls.

Just 529 girls cycled to secondary school in 2011 compared to 19,000 in 1986, the figures show, whereas there's still over 6,000 boys cycling each day.

Only one in four primary pupils now walks to school, compared with half of them 30 years ago, while six out of 10 are driven. Amongst secondary pupils the car has taken over from the bus as the most common form of transport for 40pc of students, while just a quarter of them walk.

Third-level students are now six times more likely to drive to college than to cycle, the figures show.

Some 29pc of college-goers now drive and that rises to nearly half of all students outside Dublin.

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On average commuters spend 26.6 minutes getting to work each day, but Dubliners spend twice as long with a typical commute time of 50 minutes.

One in 10 people now spends an hour or more getting to work every day, the Central Statistics Office Census 2011 results show.

Residents of Fingal, Laois, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow had the longest commuting times, whereas those in Waterford city, Donegal, Kerry and Mayo were more likely to spend less than 15 minutes travelling .

Men generally leave earlier for work than women with 55pc of them heading off before 8am, whereas mothers tend to leave later, probably because they're doing the school run.

The number of people travelling to work by bus fell by 20pc since 2006 to 92,000.

The numbers travelling by train or Luas have trebled over the last 25 years – although with fewer people at work, the number of train travellers dipped slightly in the last five years.

Irish Rail spokesman Barry Kenny said that while unemployment had an inevitable impact on commuting, rail commuting remained near record levels.

"Encouragingly, the second half of 2012 is showing stabilisation and indeed some growth in passenger numbers again, and our network is equipped to cater for passenger growth well into the future," he said.

Bus Eireann said the decline in numbers commuting had led to revenues falling, but they had seen a 3pc increase in the use of city services in the last quarter thanks to more consistent services, cross-city routes and easily understood timetables.

"Real time information has also helped attract customers, and costs – for motorists in particular – have moved people across to our services," spokesman Andrew McLindon said.

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