Two recently updated reports from the Ministry of Transport give insights into New Zealanders’ travel patterns.

The two reports, Comparing travel modes and Driver travel, use data gathered from the New Zealand Household Travel Survey. The reports look at overall trends in areas such how New Zealanders travel domestically, how much time is spent travelling, and reasons for travel.

The reports highlights that for a large proportion of car travel (two thirds), the driver is the only person in the vehicle. The reports confirm that driving is still the dominant mode of travel for most New Zealanders. The research also shows that reasons for travel and modes of travel change as people move through different life stages.

For example, while most trips are solo ones, drivers aged 25-44 most often carry passengers. This is likely to be because of parents who are travelling with young children as passengers. Passengers are carried on 40 percent of trip legs by 25-44 year olds, compared with only 24-33 percent of trip legs by drivers in other age groups.

A new report section, looking at travel by time of day, shows that while we travel less on the weekends (84 percent of the average weekday distance), we are more likely to have a passenger with us on the weekend. Not surprisingly, there is over twice as much social and recreational travel on weekends compared with weekdays.

“The travel survey is a rich resource and can be used for further research, both within the Ministry and by other researchers,” Tim Herbert, Manager of the Ministry of Transport’s Financial, Economic and Statistical Analysis Team says.

“Our reports, and the data generated by the New Zealand Household Travel Survey, help planners and policy makers see trends and patterns over time. This data helps us understand how transport systems are working, and is used to guide decisions about New Zealand’s transport network, including roads, cycle and walkways, as well as public transport.

“For many of our measures, there is very little change from year-to-year. It is over the longer term that we see trends emerging,” Mr Herbert says.

Other key findings from the reports include:

  • Overall the amount of driving per driver increased from 25 km/day in 1989/90 to 29.7 km/day in 2004-07 and then decreased again to about 28 km/day in 2010-13
  • Walking and cycling by children aged 5-14 has decreased from an average of 2 hours and ten minutes per week in 1989/90, to an hour and four minutes per week in 2010-13
  • The number of primary school-aged students being driven to school has increased significantly since 1989/90. In 1989/90, being driven made up 31 percent of primary student journeys to school. This increased to 45 percent in 1997/98, and 56 percent in 2009-13. There is some indication in recent years that the trend may be reversing.
  • The biggest users of non-car modes (such as walking, cycling, and public transport) are children (5-14) and young adults (15-24). Even these groups spend two-thirds of total travel time in a private vehicle
  • People living in small towns (population less than 10,000) and rural areas travel on average more than 30 percent further in a year as ‘urban dwellers’ living in larger towns and cities. • Work-related travel accounts for about one third of all household driving time and distance
  • More women than men were non-drivers; 14 percent of women aged 65 and over had never driven, compared with only 2 percent of men in this age group

The fact sheets focus on travel between July 2010-June 2013. They use data from 25,679 people in 10,051 households. Further data is available via the Ministry website or by contacting the Ministry’s Financial, Economic and Statistical Analysis team.

View the Comparing travel modes May 2014 report [PDF, 5.5 MB]

View the Driver travel May 2014 report [PDF, 2.6 MB]

View more information on the Household Travel Survey

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