Employment and commuting

2: Commuting


This section explores information on commuting patterns and the characteristics of commuters into and out of the district. Comprehensive data on commuting can currently only be obtained from the ten-yearly Census of Population, which matches respondents’ home addresses to those of their places of work. The results of the 2001 Census, which have recently become available, are the primary source of information for this analysis.

A summary of the main points follows. This section of the report is available to download in full:

Part 2: Commuting [PDF file 560KB]|PDF file

Changes between 1991 and 2001

The key points on commuting into and out of Calderdale are:

The impact of the above may include the following:

Working at or from home

In parallel with the growth in commuting, there has been a dramatic rise in numbers working at or from home. This is not a simple definition, since some people may work at home most of the week but go to work some days; others may work from home (and so have no other “place of work”) but travel a lot in their work. 12% of the workforce (almost one in eight) now either work from home or have no fixed place of work.

Distance travelled to work

Accompanying the growth in commuting, there has also been an increase in distance travelled to work.

Origins and destinations of commuters

The map illustrates daily trips in and out of Calderdale. It shows that the districts / towns to which Calderdale “loses” commuters are principally Bradford (net out-commuting of about 2,400), Leeds (2,300) and Greater Manchester (1,540). Huddersfield is the one area from which Calderdale has a large net “gain” – of about 2,000 per day.

Daily trips by commuters in and out of Calderdale

Changes in commuting between Calderdale and other West Yorkshire Districts, Greater Manchester, and the rest of the UK

Mode of travel

Commuting has a big impact, largely because of the greater distances involved, on mode of travel. About 20% fewer people living and working in Calderdale use the car to travel to work than is the case amongst commuters, the difference being accounted for almost entirely by bus travel and going to work on foot. These two modes, together with bicycle, account for about one third of journeys to work amongst this group.

Amongst commuters, Calderdale residents commuting to other areas are substantially more likely to use the train (6.0% against 1.9%). The explanation may be related to greater congestion involved in travelling into Bradford, Manchester or Leeds in the morning, than travelling to towns in Calderdale from these localities.

Profile of commuters


Whilst younger adults (under 35) are the largest group of in-commuters to employment in Calderdale, the middle age group (aged 35-49) makes the largest group of out-commuters. For both in-commuting and out-commuting, the “propensity to commute” falls considerably in the 50+ age group.


Substantially more men than women commute. This can be attributed to the far higher part-time working rate amongst women, associated with childcare. Further, it is often not financially worthwhile travelling the longer distances usual in commuting where work is only part-time.

Industrial sector

Breaking down the rates of commuting into and out of Calderdale for different industrial sectors, we see the following:

These characteristics reflect trends in employment growth which were summarised in Part 1, along with the higher income levels in professional occupations (see also following information on Occupations).


A break-down of commuting patterns by occupation shows:

The contrasts between commuters and non-commuters is likely to reflect pay and the trade-off between time taken and pay/career advancement. The relatively small differences between in- and out-commuters may be the result chiefly of the sectoral changes discussed above, with managers and skilled trades being highly represented in Finance and Manufacturing respectively.


Results from the Calderdale Household Survey, 2005, carried out by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), suggest a very strong contrast in qualifications between Calderdale residents working in Calderdale, in-commuters and out-commuters. Most notable is the very high qualification levels of out-commuters, with almost 47% having an NVQ Level 4 qualification or above, almost double the proportion among residents working within the District and also far higher than the figure for in-commuters.

Traffic and travel

Car use

The rise in employment, growth in the rate and distance of commuting, and increasing use of the car to travel to work have combined to produce an increase of approximately 3,000 in the number of Calderdale residents travelling to work each day in their own car between 1991 and 2001. Over the same period, there has been a decrease in bus usage, for travel to work, of a similar number, possibly up to 4,000.

Journeys to work by Calderdale residents are only part of the traffic picture. The above estimates do not include in-commuters to Calderdale, people commuting through Calderdale to work, or the rise in travel as part of work, including the movement of freight.

In addition to travel to work and travel in work, there are other developments that have had a very substantial effect on the amount of journeys made, and the amount of road traffic. Broadly, these fall into the following categories:

Of these three developments, the journey to school has had the most marked impact on rush hour traffic, in particular the morning rush hour. Although it is partly a local issue, there is a general impact on traffic beyond the neighbourhood of schools.

Car ownership

Data on vehicle registration shows that the number of vehicles registered in Calderdale has risen by 60% since 1979, to a total of 82,660 in 2002. In the last ten years (1992-2002) the increase has been 15%.

This number represents an average of about 1 vehicle per household. The 2001 Census showed that 25% of households now have two or more cars although 31% of households did not own a vehicle.

Rush hour traffic

Traffic surveys provide data on weekday traffic flows across the District boundary on major roads. Comparisons of the peak flow into and out of the District in 1999 and 2003, undertaken by Calderdale MBC Regeneration and Development Directorate, Transport Section, show fairly moderate changes over the 4 year period, with increases in the number of vehicles coming into Calderdale but decreases in those going out. This reinforces the earlier observation that out-commuters are now somewhat less car-dependent than in-commuters, and may reflect the greater congestion or other difficulties (such as parking) in the destinations of out-commuters. (The data, of course, relates only to the specified rush hours and will not reflect movements starting before or after these hours.)

Comparison of cordon surveys measuring the amount of traffic travelling into or out of a town on a number of key routes in 1993 and 2003 show a slower increase in the Halifax peak flows than those of Brighouse and Rastrick or Sowerby Bridge. This may be indicative of the impact of congestion, and may suggest either a relative shift to other modes or increasing spreading of the rush hour flows outside the two peak hours.

Last Updated: 09/03/2016