74% of Wicklow commuters are unhappy or very unhappy with their daily commute, while only one in eight were satisfied, according to the Wicklow Commuter Survey conducted on behalf of Wicklow County Council.
Furthermore, 70% of commuters working outside of County Wicklow said they were likely or very likely to switch to a job in County Wicklow if one were available, and 33% would be likely willing to take a pay cut to secure employment in the county.
Social Democrats candidate for Wicklow, Jennifer Whitmore, has called for the implementation of co-working hubs across the county following the release of these figures.
“This is a very significant finding and I believe that WCC should prioritise and facilitate the development of co-working hubs. Hubs would allow some commuters to ‘work from home’, and this would ease the pressure on our public transport and road network. It would mean a reduced carbon footprint for people. It would give families a much better work-life balance and allow people the time to spend with their families or contribute to their communities.”
“I also believe that it would be a game changer for our towns and villages, as it would mean that people would be working, lunching and shopping in their towns again. And, of course, this would revitalise our local economies. This really is a win-win situation,” said Whitmore.
Fianna Fail councillor, Gail Dunne, believes it will be difficult to address frustrations if Wicklow’s difficulty in attracting businesses continues.
“70% of the people would like to work in Wicklow and 33% would take a pay cut. I feel the problem is we’re finding it difficult to attract businesses to Wicklow. They come as far as Greystones but probably won’t come further than that. You can get the DART to Greystones but not any further south,” said Dunne at the monthly meeting of the council.
“We had an initiative there a number of years, where we went to Dublin, the council went to Dublin and Wicklow were open for business, and a number of companies came down, talked to the council, and I think we should go and do that again, to see, is there companies, wanting to relocate to Wicklow and given the opportunities to talk to the staff?”
The survey also illustrates that commuters become unhappier the longer their journey takes and the earlier in which their commute begins.
85% of commuters who’s commute takes longer than an hour were unhappy, compared to a 33% dissatisfaction rating for those whose journey lasts 30 minutes or less. 78% of people who leave home before 7:30 were unhappy with their commute, compared to 52% after 8.30.
In line with these figures, 63% of those surveyed said a shorter overall journey would improve their commuting experience, while only 23% cited that a later start time would make them happier.
County Wicklow commuters are more likely to be in the workforce and the most popular mode of transportation is by car, though those who cycle or walk to work tend to be the happiest.
Fine Gael councillor, John Ryan, said the word happier should be replaced with “healthier” in relation to cars as a mode of transport in the survey.
“You could replace the word “happier” more appropriately with “healthier” because sitting in a car for that length of time is bad for your health, on a number of fronts but from a family point of view, you’re away from your family and away from things you want to do, and there’s crashes every business day on the N11 which is affecting people’s health and environmental impact the way we’re doing things at the moment,” said Ryan.
“Even if we get 10% of people off the road that can be enough to have the flow actually work rather than the whole thing go mad,” he added.
Respondents were receptive to the idea of remote working, with 48% saying they would consider teleworking or working from an e-hub in County Wicklow.