Travel To Work

Census 2021 topic summary: travel to work.

Census 2021 travel to work data was released on 08 December 2022.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released quality information and a blog post entitled ‘Understanding commuting patterns from Census 2021’ which further describes the challenges relating to the 2021 travel to work statistics which are noted to be “reflective of this unusual period” and unlikely to be representative of conditions post-pandemic. The ONS advises that “care should be taken when using [Census 2021] data for future planning and policy purposes, especially when making comparisons with 2011”.

The datasets summarised below are:

  • Distance Travelled to Work – Available to download down to Output Area (OA) level from the ONS website or NOMIS.
  • Method Used to Travel to Work – Available to download down to Output Area (OA) level from the ONS website or NOMIS.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – Summary:

The Sway presentation below presents our local summary of the Census travel to work data in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough:

Alternatively, you can download our local summary as a PDF using the button below:

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – Headlines:

  • ONS has caveated the data heavily due to the impacts of COVID-19 on travel to work in March 2021 (period of lockdown).
  • Unsurprisingly, the 2021 data shows that a larger proportion of workers were working mainly from home in 2021 compared to 2011, both locally and nationally (31% in 2021 vs 5% in 2011, i.e. an increase of +26 percentage points).
  • Local increases were in excess of the national increase in Cambridge (+39 percentage points) and South Cambridgeshire (+36). Increases in Huntingdonshire (+29) and East Cambridgeshire (+28) were similar to the national increase, whilst Fenland (+15) and Peterborough (+21) experienced a smaller increase.
  • Working from home was particularly high in central Cambridge (in excess of 50% of workers) and particularly low in North Wisbech (12%).
  • Despite the reduction in overall numbers of commuters (due to higher levels of home working), the mode split of workers continuing to commute remained relatively similar to that observed in 2011:
        • In Cambridge, almost half (49%) of those commuting continued to travel to work by cycle or on foot, compared to 10-16% in the other local districts.
        • In 2021, 41% commuted by private motorised vehicle in Cambridge compared to 77-84% across the other local districts. The district with the highest proportion of private motorised vehicle commuters was East Cambridgeshire (84%).
        • The proportion of commuters using public transport reduced from 2011 to 2021 across all local districts and nationally. The 2021 local district proportions (2-9%) remained below the national proportion (11%) for public transport use.
  • In 2021, the local area with the highest proportion of commuters living within 5km of their workplace was the area to the north and east of Addenbrooke’s (76%) whilst the area with the lowest proportion was Sawtry (14%), notably lower than the national level (39%).
  • In 2021 79% of commuters in Cambridge lived within 10km of their workplace compared to 76% in Peterborough, 48% in Fenland, 45% in Huntingdonshire, 42% in East Cambs, 42% in South Cambs and 58% nationally.

ONS interactive working from home map:

Explore the 2021 Census data nationwide with the below map, which shows the percentage of usual residents aged 16 or over in employment who were working mainly at or from home in 2021.