The 2011 Census found that commuters are increasingly cycling and taking trains to work, while the numbers using buses fell.
More than two out of three commuters, 69%, travelled to work by car in 2011. This compares with 57% going to work by car in 1981.
The figures are contained in the latest report from the Central Statistics Office drawn from the Census carried out in April last year.
The number of bus travellers among commuters fell by 20%, 23,277, in 2011 versus 2006. By contrast, rail commuters using a train, DART or Luas rose by 40,000 in 2011 compared with 1981.
There was a 9.6% rise in the number of cyclists between 2006 and 2011. Nearly 40,000 cycled to work last year. Men accounted for nearly three quarters of all cyclists.
Residents of Fingal, Laois, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow had the longest commuting times. More than one in seven of their residents took more than an hour to get to work.
Waterford city, Donegal, Kerry and Mayo had the highest proportion of commuters with travel times less than 15 minutes.
A country in recession - AA Roadwatch
AA Roadwatch’s Conor Faughnan said the commuter numbers tell a story of a country in recession.
He said less traffic on the roads is encouraging more people to use their cars.
"Overall what you are seeing, in Dublin especially, pressure on traffic has diminished, the traffic jams are not what they used to be.
"The number of people in employment has diminished, although third-level college numbers are up and what you are seeing then is because there are fewer traffic jams the car is relatively more attractive, so people are cycling more, people are driving more, and at the moment it's the bus service that appears to see the big drop in numbers."