Last week the Ministry of Transport released a very interesting report looking at how travel in NZ has changed over the last 25 years. The data is based on the ministry’s Household Travel Survey (HTS) they conduct which monitors the travel of all members of a large number of households all across New Zealand. One of the advantages of the over the other sources like the census is that the HTS covers trips for all activities and not just trips to work like the Census currently does. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect but it does at least provide a different picture.
One of the strong themes that comes through in the report is one that we’ve talked about a lot which is that young people are starting to behave differently to older generations. They’re getting drivers licences later, driving less and using alternative modes to get around (or live in closer proximity to their destinations). This is shown a few ways.
- Fewer young people are getting their drivers licence. Part of this will be the driving licence changes of a few years ago but it for many it appears they’re simply not interested in doing so.
- Younger people – and the 25-34 age group especially – are driving less than they have in the past.
One of the big questions is whether the trend will continue or if it is just a blip, will those 25-34 year-olds continue to drive less as they shift into the older age brackets. Given the 25-34 age group decline has been going on since the late 1990’s it seems to be the former. My guess is that in places like Auckland where the city and its transport systems are evolving so rapidly that we’ll see the trend start to flow though.
Travel to Work
This is a measure that hasn’t changed a lot over the last 25 years and seeing as the data is at a nationwide level it isn’t likely to do so much in the future either. At a city level I think Auckland in particular will start to see much more change coming through as transport options improve.
But work isn’t the only place people are travelling too, in fact it’s one of the smallest destinations.
Travel to School
The travel to school data helps show one of the areas where there has been the most significant change over 25 years and also the one of the biggest areas of opportunity. As of the last survey 57% of kids aged 5-12 are now driven to school compared with 32% in 1990. Public Transport mode share has remained about the same and so the biggest contributors to the loss have been from walking and cycling which respectively have gone from 42% to 29% (thanks to a small recovery recently) and 12% to 2%.
It all reminds me very much of this cartoon
Interestingly though secondary school students are actually walking to school more than in the past and catching public transport more too. The biggest change has been cycling dropping from 19% in 1990 to just 3% now.
The MoT look at cycling to school for both age groups separately in the chart below. Statistics NZ estimate there are around 487,000 5-12 year olds and 306,000 13-17 year olds. If they were cycling at the same rate as they did in 1990 instead of being driven it could potentially take over 40,000 car trips off the road in Auckland and 100,000 nationwide. Of course some of the current driving figures will be the result of a parent dropping the kids at school on their way to work so it wouldn’t necessarily result in a reduction of car use in the immediate term – just a shifting of where and maybe when it occurs. Instead the process of getting back to those kind of mode share will certainly involve much better bike infrastructure and that will get others using it too.
With the PT data there isn’t the long term charts like above but there is some very interesting information from the most recent survey.
The chart below shows the frequency of usage of PT across different age groups and as you can see the 13-17 and 18-29 age groups are the ones most likely to catch a bus, train or ferry.
Around 2/3 of all those who used PT during the survey used it to get to work or to education but another third were doing so for other reasons.
Lastly the report includes a section on how much time is spent drinking alcohol per week. It seems this was put in the survey in the context of drunk driving. What I found fascinating is how much the younger generations have taken reduced the amount of time spent drinking. It seems to only be those 65+ who are drinking more than they were
All up some very interesting stats and a good report from the Ministry