The Ministry of Transport has undertaken an analysis of Auckland household travel over 30 years to 2018. The work is intended to help inform future work on transport related policy issues like climate emissions, land use, housing, freight, and equity issues in Auckland and nationally.
Household Travel Analysis
In 2020 the Ministry of Transport commissioned Richard Paling Consulting to undertake an analysis of the Auckland content of the National Household Travel Survey over the period from 1989 to 2018. The results are set out in the report The New Zealand Household Travel Survey - Analysis of the Auckland results for the period 1989-2018. The link to that report is here. [DOCX, 165 KB]
The analysis was commissioned at the same time as Auckland Transport commissioned Richard Paling Consulting to undertake an analysis of the 2018 Census Journey to Work results. The results are set out in the report Analysis of the 2018 Census Results – Travel to Work and Travel to Education in Auckland. A link to that report is here. [PDF, 6.1 MB]
The analysis of the 2018 Census Journey to Work results commissioned by Auckland Transport repeats a study of the 2013 Census Journey to Work results commissioned by the Minister of Transport. The results of that earlier study are set out in the report Journey to Work Patterns in the Auckland Region - Analysis of Census Data for 2001-2013. A link to that report is here. [PDF, 8.2 MB]
The Household Travel Survey and Census are complementary
All trips - The Household Travel Survey provides a picture of all household travel drawing on a small but statistically significant sample. The data is collected over three-year tranches for journeys of more than 100 metres.
Commuter trips - The Census provides a picture of one type of household trip, the journey to work. The data relates to commuting on a single day, for all households.
Both studies provide
Snapshots – A static picture of travel patterns at a particular time.
Trends – A dynamic picture of how travel has changed over time.
The Household Travel Survey captures
Purpose – Why people undertake a trip (journey), including whether to visit the shops, get to and from work or help someone else get where they need to go (accompany others).
Mode - How people made each leg of the trip within a journey (trip-leg), be it as driver, passenger, walking, public transport or bike.
People - For each trip-leg, it records the age, sex, ethnicity, and income of the person making the trip.
Snapshots of household travel 2015-2018
A typical Aucklander in 2015-18 spent 6 hours and 30 minutes a week travelling 200 kilometres at an average of 30kph. They made 7 return journeys away from home, each visiting 2-3 destinations before the return home. On average each of these return journeys covered 24 kilometres with an average of 8 kilometres between each destination.
A typical week’s travel was made up of 25 individual trip-legs by different modes between separate destinations. A journey could involve more than one mode, such as walking to the bus stop and then catching a bus.
By purpose - 5 journeys per week were for social or personal business (like visiting friends or going to the doctor), 4 for shopping, 3 to work, and 3 supporting others (ie taking kids to school or an elderly relative to the doctors). 2 were for journeys in the course of work and 1 to education. 7 journeys were the return home.
By mode - 15 of the weekly trip-legs were made as the driver, 7 as a car passenger, 3 by walking, 1 by public transport and 0.25 by bike.
The following pie graphs of travel per week illustrate the sort of snapshots captured in the Household Travel Survey report.
Figure 1: Weekly trips by purpose (2015-18) Figure 2: Weekly trips by time in hours (2015-18)
Trends in household travel 1989-2018
Travel over the last 30 years has changed, with the typical Aucklander now covering 18 kilometres more a week in 30 minutes less time. While people have switched to faster modes, the purpose of travel has hardly changed.
By purpose – Trips to support others have increased from 2 to 3 a week. Shopping trips have increased from 3 to 4 a week. Trips for social or personal business are down from 6 a week to 5. The average numbers of trips to work and education are essentially unchanged, at 3 and 1 respectively.
By mode - Walking trips have reduced from 6 to 3 a week. Cycling trips have reduced by 25 percent. Public transport has experienced a 25 percent increase in the number of boardings per person, but its share of travel distance has reduced by 10 percent. There has been an increase of 1 driver trip, and 1 car passenger trip a week.
The following bar graphs of the change in weekly travel between 1989 and 2018 illustrate the sort of trends captured in the Household Travel Survey report.
Figure 3: Percentage change in trips by mode Figure 4: Percentage change in distance by mode
Putting the HTS and Census together
Gaining an understanding of changing trip patterns and the likely causes of those changes involves looking across the Household Travel Survey, Census, Odometer and Statistics NZ dwelling consents and job location data.
The Census journey to work data provides an insight into the distribution of commuting that probably carries over into other shorter, more local trips. The small sample size of the Household Travel Survey limits the ability to look at trip distribution using the Household Travel Survey data alone.
Combining the Household Travel Survey and Census also provides insights into total travel growth per person. Other sources alone
, such as car odometer readings and public transport boardings, only provide mode specific samples, where the Household Travel Survey combined with the Census provides insights into total travel.
Changing trip distribution
The Census reveals that most commuter trips (2018) and most commuter trip growth (2006-2018) occurred in the outer parts of the Auckland urban area (Pink on the map). This distribution of travel growth closely corresponds with where households, firms and services are locating (Ministry analysis of Stats NZ dwelling consent and job location data refers).
Figure 5: Percentage of commuter trip growth by origin Figure 6: Percentage of commuter trip growth by destination
This distribution is likely to reflect the lower land costs and relative ease of access in outer parts of the Auckland urban area for individual household and firms. While households and firms may be further apart in outer parts of the urban area, housing costs are lower, and households are able to access suitable jobs and services in less time.
Population growth and travel growth
Combining the Census data on Auckland population growth and Household Travel Survey data on Auckland travel per person, reveals total population growth related travel growth a year by all modes between 2013 and 2018.
This analysis does not take account of change in travel by existing households over this period. Odometer readings suggest travel by car by households tends to fluctuate in line with economic cycles. The economy was relatively strong between 2013 and 2018, with Auckland Odometer readings growing faster than population growth, suggesting significant travel growth due to increased travel by existing households.
In summary – Aucklanders are traveling further in less time
To summarise, the work undertaken with the Household Travel Survey and Census illustrates how household travel patterns have changed in response to the changing environment in Auckland over the last 30 years. Aucklanders are travelling further within the same travel time budget. The share of car travel, both as driver and passenger, has increased at the expense of slower modes.
The work illustrates the pressure placed on the transport system due to the changing distribution of households and destinations, the associated travel growth by existing households, and the growth in the total number of households.
 This includes all travel by all people in a household - old and young, male and female, working or not-working.