The 2016 Census and Transit in Edmonton

Posted in civics on Thursday, September 01 2016

Recently I've been posting about Edmonton Transit and drawing a lot of my data from the 2014 Edmonton Census. Well the 2016 census data is now available on the Edmonton Open Data Portal so I should take a peak and see what's changed.

Shifting Population

First off there has been a population shift in the intervening years, so first things first how has the population of people in the transit subset of the census changed? Below I plot the difference between the 2016 population (i.e. the total number of respondents and non respondents in the transit dataset) and the 2014 population.

Aside from some of the newer neighbourhoods out in the fringes (and possibly even newer neighbourhoods that haven't been mapped yet) the rest of the city has seen declines. My neighbourhood in particular, Oliver, stands out with a significant drop of 6,813 people from the dataset. Overall there are 295,357 fewer people in the 2016 dataset over the 2014 dataset. A strong caveat though: this does not represent the actual population of the city, it's just how many people were included in the census dataset for transit.

Change in Population

Improvement in Census Response Rates

But of more importance to me is the census reporting rates, as we can see below the number of respondents overall is very high this year. Most neighbourhoods have a response rate of well over 80%, which is nice. Especially in the outlying neighbourhoods where in the past the response rate was down around 50%. Also there are a slew of new neighbourhoods where there either was no data before or nobody lived there.

One big caveat is that I haven't adjusted at all for any changes in neighbourhood extents, so there may be neighbourhoods that exist in either dataset that have changed in some way such that they don't match the most recent neighbourhood boundaries that I am working from. These neighbourhoods are simply not shown.

Comparison in Response Rates

To make the change more visible I have plotted the overall change from 2014 to 2016. Most neighbourhoods improved, sometimes dramatically, only a few decreased.

Change in Census Response Rates

Transit Usage

So, finally, to the meat and potatoes. What happened with transit usage in the last 2 years? Given that the Metro line opened and the city barelled ahead with new transit initiatives one would think that transit usage increased.

But actually no, transit usage decreased and car usage increased more or less across the city.

For clarity's sake I'm plotting:

$$ \left({ \text{transit users} \over \text{all respondants}}\right)_{2016} - \left({ \text{transit users} \over \text{all respondants}}\right)_{2014} $$

I'm implicitly assuming that the people who responded to the census are a good sample of the population. It could be this difference is made up entirely of all those people who, in 2014, didn't bother to fill in the census (because they were too busy tooling around in cars), actually bothering to fill in the census this time.

Change in Public Transit Usage and Car Usage

This is a city where very few people were taking transit in the first place so any decline is quite significant. Below is a plot of the raw transit usage for each year, making it all the more apparent how few people use transit as their primary mode of transportation in this city.

Transit Usage

As a final just because here is the change in alternative transit, so walking, biking, and the ever mysterious other.

Change in Alternative transit usage

As usual the ipython notebook is on github