More and more Aucklanders are commuting to work by car, despite a marginal increase in public transport use in the past decade.

A new analysis of commuting patterns, published yesterday by Statistics NZ, shows that the proportion taking the car to work in the Auckland region rose from 78.4 per cent in 1996 to 78.6 per cent in 2001 and 78.8 per cent in the last Census, in 2006.

Public transport's share rose in the same period from 6.1 per cent to 6.3 per cent and then 6.4 per cent.

There were slight reductions in the numbers riding bikes and motorbikes, and the number walking to work fell and then rose slightly to end the decade slightly below where they started.

Auckland's public transport share was puny compared with 13.4 per cent in Wellington, although still slightly better than Christchurch's 4 per cent.

Transport consultant Barry Mein said the dominance of the car reflected a continued dispersal of Auckland's new jobs.

The traditional central business district (CBD) still accounts for a big and growing share of all jobs in the Wellington region, up from 35 per cent in 1996 to 36.5 per cent a decade later.

"Areas with good public transport do have strong CBDs internationally, because traditionally the transport systems were centred on their CBDs."

In Christchurch the CBD's share fell from 25.3 per cent to 22 per cent, but remained strong.

But in Auckland, even in 1996, only 12.6 per cent of the region's jobs were in the CBD, defined as the area between the central motorway loop and the harbour. By 2006, that proportion was down to 11.7 per cent.

"The number of employees in the CBD was about 50,000 in the 1950s and it's still only about 70,000 now. For a number of years it didn't grow much at all, whereas the total regional employment was growing substantially," Mr Mein said.

The region's biggest single growth "hub" since 1996 has been in what Statistics NZ calls "North Harbour East".

That and neighbouring Albany have grown from having 0.8 per cent of the region's jobs in 1996 to 2.7 per cent in 2006.

The other two biggest growth areas are East Tamaki/Otara/Flat Bush (up from 2.9 per cent to 3.7 per cent of the region's jobs), and Auckland Airport (up from 1.9 per cent to 2.3 per cent).

There has been modest growth at Mt Wellington/Penrose (up from 5.9 per cent to 6.1 per cent) and around Manukau Central and Wiri (up from 3.2 per cent to 3.4 per cent).

Two other traditional business centres, Newmarket/Grafton and Takapuna/Westlake, have had their shares of the regional workforce shrink slightly, although with 3.2 per cent of the region's jobs Takapuna/Westlake is still marginally ahead of its upstart rival at Albany.

But the overwhelming pattern in the region is that jobs are scattered widely - almost two-thirds are outside all of the "hubs".

Mr Mein said the pattern over the past few decades had been a growth of jobs on the North Shore.

"The North Shore, over the last 20 to 30 years, has moved from being a dormitory suburb for people crossing the bridge to come south to work.

"There has been much more employment located within the North Shore and a substantial proportion of those jobs have been filled by North Shore residents."

At the last Census, 62.6 per cent of workers living in North Shore City also worked on the Shore, a higher proportion working within the city they lived in than any other part of the region except Auckland City (81.5 per cent) and Franklin District (63.9 per cent). Manukau and Papakura were not far behind, with 62 per cent of residents working in the same area, followed by Rodney with 58.6 per cent.

Waitakere is now the region's sole true dormitory suburb, providing jobs for only 44.2 per cent of its residents.

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