Data from the census remains one of the most important tools for helping to define the future of our city. The results are used for a variety of ways to help guide decisions such as what, where and when both public and private investment is needed. As of yesterday morning, Stats NZ said that already 1.2 million people had filled theirs in and they’re targeting for 70% of forms to be completed online. With today being the official census day, I thought I’d look at a couple of the results we’re most interested in seeing, once they’re finally available.
Population and Housing
Our population growth is estimated every year and the census will help us see just how accurate those have been, both in scale and location. For example, has Auckland’s city centre really grown as much as has been estimated. The graph below shows the growth in the city compared to projections. The red line is the growth since the last census and represents a growth of 19k people (58%). Was there enough spare and new capacity in the city to handle that many more people.
For many years we’ve been hearing about Auckland’s housing crisis as a result of huge growth but not having and building enough homes to cope with that. So it’s also going to be fascinating to see where that growth has gone. Are we going to see a lot more density in some of our suburbs from people crowding into homes and garages? From previous census’ we’ve seen that some of Auckland’s densest areas are around Mangere and Otara as a result of this. Will more areas join these ones?
And then there’s looking at how the population has change through metrics like age. Following the last census, Aaron Schiff make this map showing how population had changed for the 20-34 age group which highlighted that some areas, like the inner west, are seeing a lot fewer young people living there. With the housing crisis seeing the value of some homes skyrocket in the last few years, I suspect that trend is only going to continue.
There have been a couple of major changes for this census
Journey to Work
Asking how people travel to work has long been asked in the census but this year the question has been change slightly. Instead of asking how you travelled on the day it’s now how you usually travel. At the time of writing this post the weather was looking good but had it not been, this should help get a more representative result, such as if a major storm had of been blowing through and meant a lot of people who normally cycle couldn’t. In addition to the change in the question, for the first time Ferry will be a possible answer. Previous it was just grouped under “other”, although motorbike has been relegated to that category.
As for the results, there are quite a few things well be looking forward to seeing, such as:
Up till 2013, the percentage of people who are recorded as “Work at home” has remained remarkably steady at around 7%. Technically, it’s easier than ever to do for some professions but are people doing so in larger numbers?
At the last census, after breaking down the growth in travel we saw the combined growth in PT modes was actually higher than growth in cars (and as a quantum, not just a percentage increase). That saw the overall share for trips in cars took a 2.6% drop compared to 2006, although it was still nearly 83% overall. We’ve had some pretty decent PT growth in recent years so will we see that kind of result again?
Auckland Transport’s automated cycleway counters have been showing steady growth over the last few years as the cycleway network has been improved and expanded. How will cycling be reflected in the results.
How does modeshare change by location. For example, the map below shows the share of trips by PT. The areas with the highest PT modeshare tend to be on the Isthmus and then the North shore (although Devonport doesn’t show up due to ferries not being counted before). Will we see those areas intensify usage and/or will we see other areas come up to a similar share? Will the doubling of rail use see those corridors start to become more defined too?
And where are people actually travelling to. Following the last census, Stats put out this useful tool that tapped into the origin/destination data collected. The maps below show where people are travelling to the city centre from
How does modeshare change with different demographics. For example, people travelling by PT tend to be younger.
Whilst the previous census showed that women are much less likely to drive a company car or ride a bike.
I do have one little bugbear about the question though and that is you can only chose the mode you travelled the most on. That’s a problem for me as I’m possibly one of the most multi-modal people in the city. My normal commute involves a walk to the train, a train to the city, a bus to a busway station on the North Shore where I’ve left my bike overnight for the final leg to work. Whilst it’s possible to replace the bike leg with a second bus, it’s not as reliable, but I can’t replace the need for both a train and a bus. I think this kind of multi-modal commute is only going to become more common as our PT network matures.
Journey to Education
One of the major complaints that has existed with the census in the past is that it only focused on trips to work when there are a lot more trips that are taken on a daily basis. Only focusing on work can skew the results, for example when looking at the modeshare to the city centre, it ignores the fact that there are tens of thousands of students also travelling there but who don’t show up in the numbers. This is especially important as students tend to have a lot higher use of non-car travel. So this census, journey to education has been included too.
Have you filled in your census yet and what are the results you’re most interested to see?