The last census was two years ago and there’s already been a lot of analysis of the results of it. In terms of transport the census asks about Journeys to Work and while it is a fairly flawed metric due to it ignoring other trip generators like journeys to education – a large component of the morning peak in particular – it still has shown some interesting results. From it we know that in Auckland the number of people commuting to work by car increased, however it has partially come from fewer people carpooling and even more importantly it was eclipsed by the number commuting by PT. Add in the strong growth in people using active modes and there’s been the below shifts in modeshare.

PV = private vehicle

I just happened to be looking at Stats NZ a few days ago and came across data giving a demographic break down of the results which is something I haven’t seen before and the results are fascinating. In particular the results that caught my attention the most were those by age and gender and how that had changed over time.

First up the total number of people who said they worked on Census day and you can clearly see from this the aging of the baby boomer generation.

Census Journey to Work by Age - Auckland - Total

Unsurprisingly the number of people driving a private vehicle to work looks fairly similar to the graph above. What is interesting are the other private vehicle categories of driving a company vehicle, driving a motorbike or scooter and being a passenger in a car.

Census Journey to Work by Age - Auckland -  Private Vehicle

Moving on to public transport I’ve only shown bus and train below because ferries are included in the Other category. What’s remarkable about the changes is that it so clearly shows that the growth in PT is being driven by the younger generations. The question is what the people in these younger age groups will do once they start getting older and having families etc. The changes in the older age groups suggest that the numbers using PT won’t drop off as much as they have in the past which will have big implications for mode share in the future.

Census Journey to Work by Age - Auckland - Public Transport

I’ve also looked at the data for Wellington and while most categories have a fairly similar profile to Auckland, the one that stands out as being dramatically different is in train use. I suspect that as Auckland’s network matures it will start to look more like Wellington’s does now.

Census Journey to Work by Age - AKL & WLG- train

Next up are the active modes of walking and cycling with two very different trends. For walking its young people driving the change whereas for cycling it’s older generations making the shift.

Census Journey to Work by Age - Auckland - Active

Lastly it’s the Other – which is likely to primarily be ferries – and those who worked from home. The latter is primarily made up of people who live in rural areas and the wealthier coastal areas places within the urban area.

Census Journey to Work by Age - Auckland -  Other

Overall there are some very interesting changes happening with how we travel and those are primarily occurring in non-car modes. If the younger generations continue to keep the current trends up then it’s likely to have big implications for how people get around in the future. The question is whether what we’re building is going to support that change or hinder it.

The other piece of demographic information available is mode usage based on gender. Unlike age the gender split over each mode doesn’t seem to be changing much over time but what the data does highlight is that there is quite a lot of variance between the two based on which mode is looked at. Overall 54% of those who said they were working are men versus 46% women.

In the graph below are the total numbers of each gender for each mode – with the exception of Driving a Private Car as it’s so large it makes it difficult to see the other results. The first thing you notice is how over represented men are in driving a company vehicle. This is also the case for riding motorbike or cycling. In the other modes more women than men are likely to be a car passenger, use PT, walk or work from home.

Census Journey to Work by Gender & Mode - Auckland

To highlight the degree of over or under representation the graph below shows this for females (the opposite can obviously bee seen for males). Of these the quickest and easiest I think that we could change would be cycling and to do that it is essential we make our roads safer through far greater use of cycle infrastructure.

Census Journey to Work Female Over-Under Representation - Auckland

If anyone wants to look into this deeper this info is also available by local board level which I’m sure would show some interesting results between different parts of Auckland.

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  1. Interesting that cycling stats show primarily hardy males. Much as the obsession is to provide more cycling infrastructure I humbly suggest that wont change the ‘hardy male’ demographoc. Fashion, the sedentary lifestyles of the younger generation, electronic gaming, hills and Auckland’s weather are the real impediments to mass cycling uptake.

    1. Really Ricardo your reasoning is quite peculiar. Aren’t the current road conditions and the current mode shares likely to have a certain causal relationship? In other words; we can observe that in AKL there is almost zero cycling amenity and very few people riding. And those that are are dominated but the most confident [or foolish] section of society; middle aged men. Contrast this situation with many other cities with much much better cycle amenity and rates of use by all kinds of people are much higher.

      Most reasonable people would not conclude from these facts that: ‘provide more cycling infrastructure I humbly suggest that wont change the ‘hardy male’ demographoc’. To even consider your conclusion we would have to accept that there is no relation at all between good cycling amenity and numbers cycling, just some kind of bizarre coincidence that cities with lots of cyclists have lots of bike lanes.

      The much much more reasonable conclusion is in fact the complete reverse of yours. Especially as all the other reasons you add at the end to cloud your illogic are of course also observable in these other cities; do you suppose there are no electronic games in San Francisco or Copenhagen?

      So what you are expressing is a prejudice not an argument.

      1. While I agree with you Patrick,
        strictly speaking, your statements support correlation, not causation.
        It could be argued that a high cycling proportion provides impetus to increase cycling infrastructure.

        1. Yes, chicken and egg. And there is an important point here, Ricardo’s view is implies some kind of permanent mode share independent of what amenity exists. So if for example every road in Auckland was to disappear then somehow the same amount of driving would take place, despite it not being remotely possible…? This is clearly nonsense. We get what we build for. 60 years of nothing but road building, and roads only designed for the private car user, terrible for bike users, and not much good even for buses, and a run down to invisible rail service, so what do we get: a very high private car mode share.

          Recent investment in bus lanes and especially the rail system and people flock to these systems… correlation, causation, call what you will: What we feed grows.

          So we can in fact have whatever we want more of; higher single occupant private vehicle mode share? Seems to be the current government’s policy, they are spending our money hand over fist to buy more of that. More of the alternatives? That’s Auckland Council policy, and it’s working where it is able to be achieved.

          Which makes for a better city, better economy, happier citizens, better biosphere? Well that’s too easy to answer. What possible reason can there be for gov policy?

        2. You could argue that, but you would be wrong. There is no chicken and the egg, build the cycle infrastructure and the cyclists will come.

          That is how the Dutch did a u-turn on their road to auto dependency:

          And yes the Dutch had a strong tradition of cycling, almost as strong as places like Chch – which used to be the 2nd biggest cycle city in the world after Copenhagen.

          So why does Chch (as well as other flat cities such as Hamilton and Palmerston North) have a cycle mode share of around 3% while Dutch and Danish cities are at 20-40%. Better separated cycle infrastructure, pure and simple.

          And Ricardo, Auckland weather? Really? I assume you have never been to Northern Europe? Where then does have good cycling weather? Because people in southern Europe and Southern United States say it is too hot there to cycle.

          At least until they get good cycle infrastructure:

          Build it and they will come.

        3. Economists describe this as “endogeneity” or “simultaneous causation”. Regular people describe it as a chicken-and-egg situation. Regardless of what we call it, the point is that there is a robust body of literature that shows that when we invest in sufficient, safe cycle infrastructure, people’s travel behaviours change.

  2. “Interesting that cycling stats show primarily hardy males. Much as the obsession is to provide more cycling infrastructure I humbly suggest that wont change the ‘hardy male’ demographoc.”

    Incorrect on so many levels – that “obsession” is still spending less than 1-2% of our transport budgets on cycle infra. What would you call the roading investment frenzy then?

    Responding more to your implication, it is in fact shown overseas that women only tend to cycle when its safe. They have often been called an “indicator species” – when women cycle, it’s a sign that you have built enough good infra.

    Our current infrastructure is all but safe, and doesn’t feel so, and constantly is interrupted, so even if you are lucky to have some nearby, it rarely goes all the way where you want to go. It is hardly news that under those circumstances, women (who at least as an average) are much less likely to favour physical risk, say sod to that. So this is an argument for more – and better quality – infrastructure, not less.

    Also, your simplistic arguments about sedentary lifestyle and video gaming should also apply to walking – yet it doesn’t, so again, a very weak statement.

    As for fashion – in cities where cycling is big, cycling IS fashion, mate.

    As for the hills, well, Switzerland has several times our cycle uptake, and some of the flattest areas of Auckland, such as Mangere or Manukau Central, have some of the lowest cycle numbers across Auckland, whereas the pretty hilly Central Isthmus is the reverse. You are running out of arguments!

    1. The safety effect is likely to be magnified by the fact that women are still primarily responsible for carting kids around. As a hardy female cyclist, I feel fine about my current commute, but I wouldn’t want to bring my (hypothetical) kids along.

      My mum (not an experienced rider) biked around Stockholm in the early 80s with a toddler in a bike seat. That’s a sign of good infra!

      1. My Mum cycled around Chch in the early 80s with my little sister in the back. This was when traffic numbers were much lower and it felt much safer to cycle.

        The rapid growth in car speeds and numbers should have been matched with better separated cycle infrastructure. Then especially cities like Chch could have kept their 10% modal share and would have to spend much less on catering to all the new cars on the road.

        1. If only. And how many suburbs have been developed since the 80s, that now desperately need retrofitting with bike paths?

          Mum brought the bike and the seat back to Auckland (late 80s now), but the infrastructure wasn’t there to support her/us, and the idea of me riding to school was a non-starter. So the family ended up with only one regular rider, my dad the proverbial Hardy Male Cyclist.

  3. The peak of the “drive a company car” to work co-hort seems to shift in age band with the Census, so maybe indicates that perhaps there is a legacy of expectation or employment contract, that provides this group with a company car. I note that the peak is dropping slightly, so perhaps as the population ages the peak will get flatter and flatter, and eventually you’d expect it to be mostly “aged out” of the system over time.

    The train usage is definitely high for younger age groups, but across all age groups it is up as well, which is good, the broader and flatter that “curve” the better.

    This would tend to indicate that maybe the “Social Media effect” is a big factor to uptick in PT usage as was suspected.

    Whether that effect will last permanently who can tell.

    1. Commute via Wynyard Qtr sometime, the company car culture at ASB is alive and well, and I expect it will only increase down there when Fonterra is in their new building.

  4. While the information from Stats NZ is useful it is also useless without bringing into the context of where are those people going.
    The Ministry of Transport commissioned report into commuting trends (yes it had limitations in itself) which also used the Census data looked at where people were going but not the demographics.

    So put the MoT report and the above Stats NZ report together and drill those demographics down a bit more and we might have a complete picture on who is going where and why.

    The MoT report can be seen here along with concluding remarks of the series I ran with it

  5. Free transport for over 65’s was introduced in October 2008. According to this data it looks like this measure has been completely ineffective in raising patronage among this age group, as I can see no discernible difference between the 60-64 and 65+ categories. Perhaps it also suggests the costs of free public transport has been overestimated.

    Of course this doesn’t take into account non-work trips – is there any data on this?

    It would be interesting to know the cost of making transport free for under 16s/18’s instead, as this may decrease the barriers for using public transport for families, and make it more likely younger generations will prefer public transport through their lifetime. it would also make it easier for kids to get to school, and remove the fare dodging problems around certain stations.

    Free public transport for beneficiaries would be a good idea too, as many can’t afford to run a car.

    1. This is journey to work data. The supergold scheme is for retirees. By definition etired people don’t travel to work.

      1. Over ’65 are around 8% of the workforce and are eligible to collect super and get a gold card even if they are working.

        After I made the comment I realised it might not be as significant, but I was still surprised there didn’t seem to be a blip in the data. Why are those over ’65s preferring to take a car rather than get a free trip home?

        Do the percentages by age look similar to the number of users of each mode by age?

        1. The Gold Card is only free after 9am, so after most businesses have started for the day. Plus the charts also show that a huge number of over 65s work from home.

          If the charts showed all trips throughout the day, I am sure you would see a huge spike in over 65s using public transport. Certainly as anecdotal evidence only (i.e. not really evidence at all), I have seen a lot more older people using PT since 2008.

          I have never understood why over 65s should get this. It would be better to link free public transport in off peak periods to a Community Services Card – why should there be this bias in favour of older people? Why not single mums, un/under employed or just low paid workers? It might at least make it easier for those people to get around the city and find more work opportunities.

  6. Very interesting. The spike in young walkers,busers,trainers is very interesting. I guess people like more time with their smart phones. The cycle to work data suggests older people are cycling, but that less young people are working, either through recession or loss of youth rates.

    1. Important to remember that this is a very skewed set of data as it only measures journey to work. No education trips included here, so generalisations about young people cannot really be based on it alone, nor, as we see above, the retired,.

      The Australian census asks for ‘journey to work or education’ I wish we had that here, as government ministers and their functionaries that I have spoken quote these data as if they are complete [generally in the context of making claims about how small the non-driving mode shares are].

  7. So given that it looks like more people work at home than use trains maybe they could start paying us all a bounty to work at home to encourage more to join us. Lets face it there is a major saving to the community of not having to build roads, buslanes or train tracks for our commute.

    1. … there you go, treating these data as if they tell the whole movement story. This is a poor question in the census, or rather an incomplete one. It is useful to know about journeys to work, but not to the exclusion of other journeys.

  8. Re. the Auckland/Wellington graph – presumably the reason more middle-aged people catch the train in Wellington is because the line serves the Hutt, Tawa, Porirua and Kapiti; whereas younger people tend to live in the central and southern parts of Wellington City, which doesn’t have a line. So I’m not sure that Auckland will necessarily follow the same pattern over time.

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