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  Environment » Environmental Information » Environmental indicators » Social and economic: monitoring and reporting » Transport to work » Methods - how we monitor

Methods - how we monitor

Where and how we collect the data

Monitoring sites

The data are collected across New Zealand by Statistics New Zealand1 as part of the Census of Population and Dwellings. The purpose of the Census is to collect demographic and social statistics, which can be used by government, business and community organisations for planning and other decision making.

Monitoring frequency

Statistics New Zealand carries out a Census of Population and Dwellings every five years, generally in March, under the authority of Section 23(1) of the Statistics Act 1975.

Monitoring history

The most recent analysed data available is from the 1996 census. The results of the ‘Journey to Work’ data collected from the March 2001 Census were not available at the time this indicator was compiled.

Measurement technique

All New Zealand residents are surveyed at the time of the Census. The question relevant to this indicator in the 1996 Census questionnaire was “On Tuesday 5 March what was the ONE main way you travelled TO your work – that is the one you used for the greatest distance.”

The options for respondents to choose from were:

  • Worked at home.
  • Did not go to work today.
  • Public bus.
  • Train.
  • Drove a private car, truck or van.
  • Drove a company car, truck or van.
  • Passenger in a car, truck or company bus.
  • Motor bike or power cycle.
  • Bicycle.
  • Walked or jogged.
  • Other (such as taxi, ferry, aeroplane).

In 1991, Statistics New Zealand amalgamated their ‘Bicycle’ and ‘Walked or jogged’ category responses and included them in the ‘Other’ category.

How this indicator is compiled

For this indicator we have grouped the data into seven categories and calculated the number of people using each category as a percentage of the total number of responses for the Region.

All responses that were in Statistics New Zealand’s categories of ‘Not specified’ or ‘Did not go to work today’ were not included in our analysis. The total number of responses we used to calculate the percentages did not include responses in these two categories.

Statistics New Zealand groups the Main Means of Travel to Work into 12 categories. This indicator used ten of those categories and re-categorises them into seven major modes of transport to work.

The table below shows the indicator categories and the Statistics New Zealand categories they were derived from.

Indicator category Statistics New Zealand category
Drove car, truck or van Drove a private car, truck or van
Drove a company car, truck or van
Passenger in car, truck or company bus Passenger in car, truck or company bus
Worked at home Worked at home
Walked or jogged Walked or jogged
Bicycle Bicycle
Public Bus Public bus
Other Other (such as taxi ,ferry, aeroplane)
Motor bike or power cycle

Guidelines and standards

None relevant to this indicator.


Specific conditions apply to information obtained from Statistics New Zealand including copyright, quality of statistical data, liability, timing and use of the Statistics New Zealand website. Further information on these conditions is available on the Statistics New Zealand website(external link).

The indicator only covers the ‘journey to work’ trip which is estimated to make up about 15 percent of all travel. A recent New Zealand Travel Survey found that education, shopping, social and recreational trips make up 37 percent of travel (1997/98 New Zealand Travel Survey Report, Land Transport Safety Authority).

The indicator does not allow for recording multi-modal journeys, for example, both walking and driving in one journey.

Census data may be biased seasonally as it only records one particular day of the year. Usually the Census is in March when the weather is warmer and day length is reasonably long. This is likely to affect people’s choice of transport.

Data from the ‘Not specified’ category has not been included in this indicator and this accounted for 3 percent of the Region’s responses to the travel question in 1996 and nearly 10 percent of responses in 1991. The ‘Did not go to work today’ category was also not included in the indicator and accounted for nearly 10 percent of the Region’s responses in 1996 (this category may include unemployed or sick people). These two categories were omitted, as they were not considered to be a specific way of travelling.

The ‘Working from Home’ category was included as it affects travel patterns, and the impacts of travel on the environment.

Further indicator developments

No changes to this indicator are planned.

Quality control procedures

Information about Statistics New Zealand’s policies and procedures is available on their website: Statistics New Zealand(external link) – Census 2001

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