Main mode of transport to work on Census day

This section presents statistics on the main mode of transport that people used to get to work on Census day.

Using active transport (such as walking and cycling) to get to work is a useful way to get some physical activity each day. With the high adult obesity rate in New Zealand, this is a relatively easy way to increase physical activity in adults.

Motorised forms of transport (such as cars, vans and motorcycles) also contribute to air pollution, noise pollution and greenhouse gases.

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Motorised vehicles are used by four in five commuters 
Public transport use increases slightly from 2001 to 2013
Women and 15–19-year-olds use more active and public transport  
Wellington and Nelson regions have highest use of active and public transport  

Motorised vehicles are used by four in five commuters 

 In 2013, four in five commuters (82%) used a car, truck or van as their main mode of transport to get to work on Census day (ie to travel the longest distance) (Figure 1).

Overall, 9.7% of commuters used active transport (walking, jogging or cycling). A further 5.7% of commuters used public transport (public bus or train).

Figure 1

Public transport use increases from 2001 to 2013

The percentage of commuters who used public transport increased slightly from 5.1% in 2001, to 5.7% in 2013 (Figure 2).

However, there were decreases in walking/jogging to work, from 7.1% in 2001, to 6.8% in 2013. Cycling to work also decreased from 3.1% in 2001, to 2.9% in 2013.

Figure 2

Overall, there was little change in the combined use of active or public transport to travel to work from 2001 (15.4%), to 2006 (14.7%) and 2013 (15.4%).  

There was also little change in the use of a car, truck or van from 2001 (82.3%), to 2006 (83.0%) and 2013 (81.7%).  

Women and 15–19-year-olds use more active and public transport

Women had a slightly higher use of active transport (9.8%) than men (9.6%) as their main mode of transport to work on Census day in 2013.  Women also had a higher use of public transport (7.1%) than men (4.6%).

People aged 15–19 years had the highest use of active transport (19.6% of commuters) and public transport (11.0%) (Figure 3).  People aged 40+ years had the lowest use of active and public transport. 

Figure 3

Wellington and Nelson regions have highest use of active and public transport

Figure 4 shows the regions with the highest use of active transport (walking/jogging/cycling) to work on Census day in 2013 were:

  • Nelson (18.3% of commuters)
  • Wellington (15.2%)
  • West Coast (14.9%).

The regions with the highest use of public transport included Wellington (17.3%) and Auckland (8.3%).

Regions with low rates of active and/or public transport included Northland, Bay of Plenty and Southland.

Figure 4

Information about the data

Main mode of transport to work on Census day

Source: New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings (2001, 2006, 2013) – Statistics New Zealand

Definition: Percentage of commuters aged 15 years and over who used different transport modes as their main means to travel to work on Census day.  

Transport modes include walking, jogging, cycling, using a public bus or train, and using a private or commercial vehicle (car, truck or van). Main mode of travel is defined as the transport mode used to travel the longest distance to their place of employment.  

For this indicator, 'commuters' are defined as the employed usually resident population aged 15 years and over who travelled to work on Census day (ie excludes people who did not work on Census day, or who worked from home).

For more information, visit Statistics New Zealand's NZ.Stat website, and look under the 'Census' section.