Wicklow County Council report
A staggering 74 per cent of Wicklow commuters are unhappy with their commute and 33 per cent would consider taking a pay cut if it meant being able to work in the Garden County.
Location intelligence company Gamma was deployed by Wicklow County Council to prepare a study on the commuting patterns of the Wicklow public, the results of which were revealed at Monday's County Council meeting. Over 6,000 commuters took part in the survey over two weeks.
65,759 of County Wicklow residents regularly commute either to work, representing 92 per cent of the working population. Of these, 44 per cent remain in Wicklow and 56 per cent leave the county. Of those who commute to work, 68 per cent of them drive to work.
Describing how such data will prove useful, Wicklow County Council Chief Executive Frank Curran said: 'The idea for the commuter survey came about from discussions with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland about attracting jobs. We need this information to showcase the amount of people leaving Wicklow each day. They are also more likely to be traveling for more than an hour compared to other parts of the county'.
74 per cent of the people who participated in the survey said they were unhappy or very unhappy with their commute, with only one in eight happy or very happy. 70 per cent of workers working outside of Wicklow said they would be likely or very likely to consider a switch to a job in County Wicklow if it became available. A further 33 per cent said they would be likely or very likely to consider a lower salary if they meant they could work in Wicklow.
48 per cent of survey respondents said they would be likely or very likely to consider working from an e-hub or teleworking location in the County.
Eleven per cent of commuters have to leave home before 6.30 a.m. to get to work, while 15 per cent leave from 6.30 a.m. to 7 a.m., 14 per cent from 7 a.m. to 7.30 a.m., 16 per cent from 7.30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 14 per cent from 8 a.m. to 8.30 a.m.
Cllr Gerry Walsh felt park and ride stations and dedicated bus lanes would help reduce the travelling times for commuters.
He noted: 'The figures seem to suggest that not many people aren't car pooling. There is also a feeling of a lack of reliability over public transport. People would use it more if it was more frequent and reliable'.
Cllr Jennifer Whitmore said such large numbers of people commuting each day was having an impact on local towns and villages.
'One of the biggest issues facing residents and the council is the viability of our towns. These long commutes impact on the lives of people and their work and life balance ends up skewed. It also undermines our towns because you don't have many people left and spending the day there and shopping'.
Cllr Derek Mitchell said: 'It's useful to have this sort of data and stats when dealing with Government agencies, even if they show what we already know'.
He also criticised the lack of local rail services during the peak time of rush hour.
Cllr John Ryan suggested Clermont, the home of Wicklow County Campus, as an ideal location for an e-hub.
'Even getting ten per cent of people off the road could help with the traffic flow,' added Cllr Ryan.
Cllr Edward Timmins was interested in the idea of co-working spaces.
He said: 'In west Wicklow we have no train network. Wicklow probably has the longest commute times in the whole country, therefore Wicklow is in a position to demand investment to reduce community times. I have an interest in the idea of co-working spaces. Clare actually has three such locations even though their commute times are a lot shorter than Wicklow'.
Mr Curran stated that a co-working place would be included as part of the redevelopment of Arklow's historic town core which could act as a pilot model for similar spaces.
He also outlined some other moves the Council are making to try and cut down on commute times, including pushing for an upgrade of the rail line south of Greystones and lobbying for a Luas link to both Fassaroe in Bray and Blessington.