In Ireland, the prevalence of public transport services depends largely on your proximity to an urban centre. Like many European countries, the public transport service is better in and near cities than it is in rural locations. It is for this reason that many people who live in rural locations and work locally or in nearby towns often feel that their only option is to drive. Commuting in Ireland is therefore somewhat affected by where you choose to live.
However, with the cost of car insurance skyrocketing, increased competition in the inter-city bus market, and more and more people living in urban areas, it is unsurprising that driving is no longer the default option for all commuters in Ireland, even those in rural locations. With that in mind, it is imperative that you are informed of all the commuting alternatives available to you as you transition to life in Ireland
If you are working more than a walking distance from where you live, then you need to consider your commuting choices carefully. Failing to do so could see you spending hours each day in transit, or being forced into having to purchase a car to get from A to B. By planning ahead and researching your route, you can avoid this problematic situation. Commuting in Ireland is a necessary part of everyday life for many people, but with the right planning and a positive mindset it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.
What are my commuting in Ireland options?
In the holy trinity of work, accommodation and transport, many people who move to Ireland pay attention to the first two necessities at the expense of the latter. This is a big mistake, and one that you really need to avoid. While it is true that finding a job and a place to live are essential to your new life in Ireland, they aren’t the only considerations as knowing if commuting in Ireland will be part of your daily routine is also very important. If you don’t plan on purchasing a car right away, then you need to make sure that your needs are served by public transport.
Important questions that you should ask yourself before settling on a place to live include:
- What is the distance between here and where I work?
- Do I need to get to another location on a regular basis, such as a school? If so, what are the most efficient transport options between three or more locations?
- Is there a bus, train, light rail or combination of these modes of transport nearby?
- If public transport is not an option, is cycling a viable alternative?
- How much can I expect to spend on transport expenditure?
The most common mode of transport for people commuting in Ireland is the bus. Bus Éireann operates all public bus coaches in Ireland, with the exception of Dublin, where the city’s public buses are operated by Dublin Bus. The cost of a bus ticket differs depending on which city you are using it in, so it makes sense to visit the Bus Éireann website for up to the minute fares.
As well as city-specific services in cities like Galway, Cork and Limerick, Bus Éireann also offers a cross-country and inter-city service that connects towns and villages across Ireland to each other, as well as other larger cities. For many years, Bus Éireann had a virtual monopoly on this service but private sector competition has grown over recent years, making commuting in Ireland easier. It is now possible to get from Dublin to all other cities and many larger towns using a private bus company. Some of the most popular private bus companies include:
If your job requires you to commute regularly between cities in Ireland, then taking the train might be your best choice. In the past, the Irish public train network, which is operated by Irish Rail (also known as Iarnród Éireann), was the quickest way of getting from one city to another. However, a massive expansion in Ireland’s motorway network over the past two decades means this is no longer necessarily the case.
Whatever the train may have lost on the speed stakes, it more than makes up for it in terms of comfort and convenience. What’s more, if you need to work while commuting in Ireland, then the train is more appropriate than the bus for this purpose.
As well as a large network of cross-country trains, a number of more localized suburban and commuter-specific trains exist, primarily serving Dublin and the surrounding areas. These trains are perfect for people who work in Dublin but live in a regional town and don’t want to spend hours each day in traffic.
The main commuter train lines running to and from Dublin city are:
- Dublin Northern Commuter service extends from Dublin’s Pearse Station via Dublin Connolly Station to Dundalk.
- Dublin Portlaoise Commuter service extends west from Dublin’s Heuston Station to stations as far to Portlaoise.
- Dublin Longford Commuter service extends from Dublin’s Pearse Station via Dublin’s Connolly Station to Longford.
- Dublin Dunboyne / M3 Parkway services extends from Dublin’s Dockland/ Connolly Station via Clonsilla to Dunboyne/ M3 Parkway.
- Dublin Southern Commuter service operates from Dublin’s Connolly Station to Gorey Station.
Luas & DART (Dublin only)
Given that Dublin is Ireland’s largest city, it should come as no surprise that it is also the city with the most transport options. As well as Dublin Bus, commuter trains and an ever-expanding cycling network, Dublin is also home to the Luas (Irish for ‘speed’), an above ground, light-rail tram service that connects the city from east to west and, as of 2017, north to south.
In addition to the Luas there is also the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit), an electronic rail system that serves city and suburban commuters as well as people living in nearby towns located in close proximity to the coast.
What is a Leap Card?
If you are based in or plan on moving to an Irish city, and intend to use public transport on a daily basis for commuting in Ireland, it might be worth your while to get a Leap Card. The Leap Card is a prepaid transit card that works on most Irish bus, rail and tram networks in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford, as well as the Dublin Bikes scheme. It can save you up to 20% over single fare ticket. It is very useful to have in your pocket, though some modes of transport may still require exact change to board. You can buy a Leap Cardin many local shops. In addition, you can top it up online, in participating stores, and at LUAS/Irish Rail stations.
A Taxsaver Scheme also exists for Leap Card holders and other working commuters whereby employees can save between 31% – 51% in tax, Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) and Universal Social Charge (USC) with a taxsaver ticket. Your employer will need to purchase it on your behalf, but it is worth talking to them about it if you will use public transport on a daily basis.
An increasing number of cycle lanes and greenways popping up across Ireland. On top of that, public bike-share schemes have quickly become an important part of the cycling scene in Ireland. Started in 2009, the Dublin Bikes scheme has revolutionized cycling in the city and encouraged more and more people to get on the saddle. Following the success of the Dublin Bikes scheme, the Bikeshare service was introduced in Galway, Cork and Limerick.
A new stationless bike project, Bleeper Bike, was launched in Summer 2018. It gives commuters in South Dublin and in Sligo town the chance to pick up a bike and park it at any traditional bike parking spot, not relying on finding a dedicated bike station.
If you are partial to cycling, don’t forget your rain gear. Ireland is no stranger to surprise rain showers.
Cycling is a popular choice for many Irish commuters. However, you must remember to wear protective gear as cycle lanes are not always available, and city roads can have high volumes of traffic during peak times.