The number of people driving to work by rose by over 225,000 between 2002 and 2006, an increase of 22%, according to a new report from the Central Statistics Office.

Of the 1.7m workers in the State in April 2006, almost 1.1m (57%) drove a car to work - up from 55% in 2002.

When combined with workers who travelled to work as car passengers or as van/lorry drivers, seven out of ten workers were private vehicle users in 2006.

There was a small increase in the number of workers commuting by bus, but its share of public transport use fell from 6.7% to 6.1%.

There was a huge increase in rail use, up 66% over the four-year period, which can be attributed to the introduction of Dublin's two LUAS lines.

Train usage by workers was highest in the Fingal area of north Co Dublin. The towns of Donabate (26%), Skerries (24%), Portmarnock and Malahide (both 20%) scored best in this area.

The figures on the 247,000 primary school children who were being driven to school in 2006 show that 44,000 were driven 1km or less. A further 105,000 were driven 4km or less.

The report shows that over half of rural secondary school students take a bus to school as compared to one in five of their urban counterparts. 45% of second-level goers were driven 4km or less, which translates to 43,000 car journeys.

Workers travelled on average 15.8km from their homes to their workplaces in 2006, little change on 2002. Rural-based workers travelled an average of 20.9km compared with 12.8km for workers living in urban areas.

The average journey time to work was 27.5 minutes in April 2006, slightly up from 26.8 minutes in April 2002. Even though urban workers travelled shorter distances to their workplaces, traffic congestion meant that they spent longer periods commuting (27.9 minutes compared with 26.8 minutes for rural workers). 

Close on 1.2m households had at least one car each in 2006 - an increase of 170,000 compared with 2002.

Meath (90%), Cork County (88%), Waterford County and Kildare (both 87%) had the highest proportions of households with at least one car. Four out of ten households in Dublin City had no car in 2006.