CSO study shows high rates of car dependency in Limerick

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

NOBODY in Croom cycles to work or to school – or at least not officially.

NOBODY in Croom cycles to work or to school – or at least not officially.

The CSO has published details of the commuting habits of cities, towns and electoral divisions right across the country in 2011 which show County Limerick to be one of the most car-dependent counties in the Ireland. And among the cities, Limerick commuters were the second least likely after Waterford to use public transport.

Just over four in five of County Limerick people travelling to work, school or college do so by car, according to the statistics. The corresponding figure in Limerick city is 65%. In the county, only 1.4% of commuters use public transport compared to 5.3% in the city. And 22.5% of city residents walk to work or school. Unsurprisingly, a much lesser proportion of 6.4% manage to foot it in the county.

Just over 1100 Limerick commuters - around 2% of the total - face daily journeys in excess of 90 minutes to and from their place of work.

One of the more stark statistics in the report is that Galway has now overtaken Limerick in terms of the number of people at work in the city and suburbs during the day. The figures - which include suburbs such as Raheen and Castletroy which are still technically in County Limerick – show that in 2011 there were more than 1000 more people in Galway’s daytime workforce.

Limerick also had the unhappy distinction of recording the largest fall in working population of any electoral division in the country between 2006 and 2011.

This was in Ballycummin – which includes Raheen and of course the Dell manufacturing plant which closed in 2009 – which suffered a fall in daytime working population of 4038 people over that period.

“The daytime working population of Limerick city and suburbs in April 2011 was 40,464, made up of 20,378 (city) residents who worked in the city and a further 20,086 commuters who journeyed into Limerick each day. A total of 6,405 (13%) residents travelled outside the city for work,” the report states.

“Limerick county, with 10,679 persons, was the place of residence for 53% of commuters into the city, while a further 4,764 and 2,189 workers commuted from Clare and Tipperary North respectively. Annacotty provided the largest number of commuters (708) followed by Castleconnell (369), Ardnacrusha (314) and Ballina (312).”

The figures show that towns that are served by public transport do not fare much better in terms of carbon footprint than those without such links. Castleconnell and Sixmilebridge, classic commuter towns with both train and bus services to Limerick, have among the highest rates of car dependency.

Statistics broken down into electoral divisions are somewhat skewed by the number of people who did not fill in the relevant sections of the census forms. But they do show that four in five of Castleconnell commuters got to work or school by car, while for Sixmilebridge car usage exceeded 76%. Less than 1% in both villages make the trip to the train station each morning but 6% in Sixmilebridge and 7% in Castleconnell took the bus.

Car dependency in Croom (68%), Adare South (64%), Newcastlewest Urban (70%), Bruff (71%) and Kilmallock (70%) were all below the levels recorded in the two villages with train stations.

As usual with such statistical analyses, there were huge variations among neighbourhoods of Limerick city which are cheek-by-jowl. Only 36% of those living in Galvone B (which includes O’Malley and Keyes Parks) drove to work or school compared to 62% in Ballysimon (which includes parts of Castletroy, Monaleen and Annacotty). For an area with a large population of students and well-served by cycle lanes, it comes as a surprise that only 3% of those commuting in the Ballysimon electoral division did so on two wheels.