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Car streets ahead for travel to work and education

23 October 2019

More than 1.4 million working people drove a private car, truck, or van to work and more than 120,000 students drove to their place of education according to the 2018 Census, Stats NZ said today.

Wellington region was tops for public transport and Nelson city had the highest proportion of people cycling to work. Almost 4 in 10 of all students were passengers in cars, trucks, or vans to their place of education.

Main means of travel to work

“Most employed New Zealanders rely on cars for travelling to work,” census general manager Kathy Connolly said.

For employed people aged 15 years or over, driving a private car, truck, or van was the most common mode by far, with 57.8 percent of employed adults (or 1,412,994 people) using this as their main means of travel.

“Including those people who drove or were passengers in a company vehicle, about three-quarters of all workers got to their jobs in a car, truck, or van,” Ms Connolly said.

In 2018, almost 1 in 8 (11.9 percent or 291,135) employed adults 15 years and over worked from home:
• The largest two industries in which people worked from home were Agriculture, forestry, and fishing (21.4 percent or 62,199 people) and Professional, scientific, and technical services (13.4 percent or 39,021 people).
• Southland district had the highest proportion of people stating they worked from home (30.9 percent or 5,559 people).

The Wellington region contained the highest proportions of employed adults travelling to work via public transport (bus and train) or walking and jogging with:

• Wellington city having more than four times (17.3 percent or 21,006 people) the national figures for bus use (4.2 percent or 103,194 people)
• Porirua city having seven times (14.1 percent or 3,972 people) the national figures for train travel (2.0 percent or 48,777 people)
• Wellington city having almost four times (19.3 percent or 23,400 people) the national figures for people walking or jogging to work (5.2 percent or 127,350 people).

These results from the 2018 Census are consistent with our Wellbeing statistics: 2018, which showed that public transport was most accessible for people living in major urban centres. Only 6.3 percent of the population in major urban centres said it was difficult or very difficult to use public transport, compared with 75.2 percent of people living in rural areas.

A new response ‘Ferry’ was added to the question on the main means of travel to work in the 2018 Census. Of the 6,045 people who travelled to work this way, 88.1 percent lived in Auckland, while 4.5 percent lived in Lower Hutt city.

In the cities and districts, cycling to work was most popular in Nelson city (6.1 percent or 1,620 people) and Christchurch city (5.6 percent or 11,160 people) compared with the national figures of 2.0 percent or 47,811 people.

Main means of travel to education

The 2018 Census was the first time we collected information on main means of travel to education.

As with travel to work, the car was the most popular method of travel to education. More than half (50.2 percent) of all students got to their place of education by car, truck, or van, either as a passenger (39.1 percent or 449,604 people) or by driving themselves (11.1 percent or 128,223 people). ‘Student’ includes people from preschoolers up to adult learners.

“This may indicate that it’s typical for many working parents to drop their children at school or preschool on their way to work, as 87.7 percent of passengers were aged less than 15 years,” Ms Connolly said.

“Going to a place of study or education by car is more common than walking or jogging (20.5 percent or 235,842 people) or taking a bus (17 percent or 195,552 people) combined.”

Remote learning featured in results from the 2018 Census, with 5.3 percent or 61,557 people indicating that they studied at home.

“This may reflect how education providers and technology are increasingly making it easier for people to study extramurally from home,” Ms Connolly said.

About main means of travel and data quality

Main means of travel to work is the usual method by which an employed person aged 15 years and over used to travel the longest distance to their place of employment (for example, by bicycle, public bus, walking, or driving).

Main means of travel to education is the usual method a person used to travel the longest distance to their place of education (for example, by bicycle, school or public bus, walking, or driving).

‘Usual’ is the type of transport used most often, for example, the one used for the greatest number of days each week, month, or year. If there are two (or more) forms of transport used equally as often, the most recent form of transport was recorded.

‘Main’ is the type of transport used for the component of the journey that covers the longest distance.

Note: We changed the way we collect main means of travel to work information in the 2018 Census. In the 2018 Census, we collected information on how people usually travelled to work. In the 2013 Census, we collected information on how people travelled to work on census day (Tuesday 5th March, 2013). Comparisons should be made with caution to previous census information.

For main means of travel to work, 81.0 percent of responses were from the 2018 Census individual form. For the remaining people, we used imputation (19.0 percent) to fill in all missing values. For main means of travel to education, 84.5 percent of responses were from the 2018 Census individual form, and 15.5 percent from imputation.

The overall quality ratings for both main means of travel to work, and main means of travel to education, are moderate quality (see Data quality assurance for 2018 Census). Our tool DataInfo+ has more information and definitions on Main means of travel to work, and Main means of travel to education.

About the 2018 Census dataset

We combined data from the census forms with administrative data to create the 2018 Census dataset, which meets Stats NZ’s quality criteria for population structure information.

We added real data about real people to the dataset where we were confident they should be counted, but they hadn’t completed a census form. We also used data from the 2013 Census and administrative sources, and statistical imputation methods to fill in some missing characteristics of people.

The independent External Data Quality Panel has endorsed the statistical approaches used by Stats NZ to mitigate non-response. See Initial report of the 2018 Census External Data Quality Panel.


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