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Commuting Patterns in the UK, 2011

Flows of commuters between local authorities are analysed.

Commuting Patterns in the UK:  Exploring the Census 2011 Origin-Destination Data

Commuting patterns between local authorities can be explored via the Census 2011 UK travel flows data. This is available via Nomis and in addition an interactive map tool has been created. This map tool displays the flows between local authorities together with providing some added information and charts.

To give an illustration of the data available, data for the local authority of Cambridge has been analysed.  Amongst the findings for Cambridge in 2011 was that:

  • Over half of the Cambridge workforce consisted of in-commuters (from other local authorities) with 73% of these in-commuters travelling by car or van.

  • For those who commute from a residence to a workplace within the local authority, 43% travelled by bicycle and a further 23% walked to work.

  • Over 1,000 Cambridge residents commuted to Westminster or City of London with 2,457 commuting to London in total (4.1% of Cambridge working residents).

The share of working residents commuting to London has also been calculated for all other local authorities in the UK.  This data shows that:

  • There were 42 local authorities (all in the South East or East of England regions) from which at least 10% of working residents commuted to London.  Epping Forest (42%), Epsom and Ewell (41%) and Dartford (38%) had the highest shares.

  • The highest shares from outside the Greater South East were from South Northamptonshire (2.6%), Cotswold (2.1%) and Wellingborough (2.0%).

Cambridge Travel Flows

This chart reproduction is taken from the interactive map tool and summarises commuting data for Cambridge. A similar chart can be produced for each local authority in the UK.

The first bar of the chart shows that in 2011 Cambridge had 59,865 working residents. Of these 56% (33,704) commuted to a single workplace located within Cambridge, 11% (6,570) were home workers, 5% (3,203) did not have a fixed commute while 27% (16,110) were out-commuters, travelling to a single workplace in a different local authority. A small number (278) worked outside of the UK or offshore.

The second bar of the chart shows that approximately 94,776 people work in Cambridge. The 33,704 who commute from residences within Cambridge made up 36% of the workforce. The 6,570 home workers made up 7% of the workforce whilst the 3,203 Cambridge working residents with no fixed commute (who are assumed by the census to make up part of the Cambridge workplace population) made up 3% of the workforce. This means that 54% of the workforce (51,299) consisted of in-commuters who travelled into Cambridge from other local authorities. 

Further information on the travel flows is available. For example, either the census tables or visualisation spider map can be used to see the origins or destinations of the commuting flows. In the case of Cambridge, 23,367 of the in-commuters into Cambridge were resident in South Cambridgeshire whilst 1,018 of the out-commuters from Cambridge commuted to a workplace in either Westminster or the City of London.

Age information is also available within the census tables. For example, data on the age of commuters shows that 27% of in-commuters into Cambridge were aged 50 or above compared with 20% of out-commuters from Cambridge. By contrast, 24% of in-commuters into Cambridge were aged 25-34 compared with 35% of out-commuters. In other words, the age profile of in-commuters into Cambridge was older than the age profile of out-commuters from Cambridge.

The main mode of transport can also be investigated and in the case of Cambridge shows very different transport patterns amongst in-commuters into Cambridge local authority compared with those who commute from a residence to a workplace within the local authority. Amongst the 51,299 in-commuters into Cambridge, 73% travelled in a car or van, 9% by bus, 8% by bicycle and 7% by train. By contrast, the main transport mode amongst the 33,704 who commuted within the Cambridge local authority was bicycle (43%) while 23% walked to work. The share travelling in a car or van was 25%. Among the 16,110 out-commuters from Cambridge, 58% travelled in a car or van, 15% by train and 13% by bicycle.

Commuting into London

The map shows the share of working residents in each local authority whose place of work in 2011 was in Greater London. There were 19 local authorities where over 20% of working residents commuted to London. These are shown as the darkest shade in the map and can be seen to be local authorities that typically share a border with Greater London. A further 23 local authorities had over 10% of working residents commuting to London and 21 more local authorities had between 5%-10% of working residents commuting to London.

The highest share from outside the Greater South East was in South Northamptonshire from where 2.6% of working residents commuted to London. However, 85 of the 114 local authorities in the South East or East of England regions had a higher share than this illustrating that these two regions continue to provide the vast majority of London’s in-commuters.

Categories: Travel and Transport, Roads, Roads and Traffic, Public Transport
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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