Talk:Travel to work area

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Unnecessary removal of key page details[edit]

Thanks to Demograph for changing the reference to Department for Work and Pensions but sorry to say the latest change to this page seems to have destroyed the nature of the information being aimed at by the page title!

This is not a page about the population that lives in any given urban area it is about the number of people who travel into a regional centre for work; the number of jobs in those areas. There are plenty of other pages giving urban population. This one was purely about the administrative tool called a “Travel to Work Area”.

It would have been perfectly acceptable to ADD the population to the original table, but to completely remove that table and replace it with a different list of total population seems to me to be contrary to the principles of Wikipedia.

I am therefore restoring my original accurate table about jobs, taken from Government statistics, and adding the population figures given by Demograph where relevant. Whilst I accept that the job figures are older than the most recent population figures, these are illustrative of the size of the job market and therefore of interest to Wiki users.

Cannot help therefore but question the motivation for changing the original table. What was the point in taking the work figures off the page altogether? Yes it's useful to see the population figures too, but to have totally deleted the figures for the jobs, effectively ruined the point of the page!

Please do not delete the job figures unless there are more recent figures available.

Signed by mapmark.

Different TTWAs[edit]

There are two different sets of TTWAs - one (56 areas) solely used within the State of the Cities report which does not cover the entire country, best fits to local authority areas, and combines some towns together, and the other as defined by the ONS which has 308 areas, covers the entire country and has nothing to do with local authority areas.

The article is currently a confusing combination of the two measures. As the State of the Cities report version does not cover the entire UK, and specifically states within its own FAQ that its data is not to be used outside that report, I suggest that the article needs a serious rewrite and should use the ONS data as the primary measure, with State of the Cities mentioned as a secondary measure. Fingerpuppet 21:59, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Neither sets of data there look very useful. The Jobs information is from 1997, which means that the TTWA boundaries used are from the 1981 census (the boundaries were revised in 1998 based on the 1991 census and were revised again this year based on the 2001 census) which means that they're a quarter of a century out of date. The population information is more up to date but is approximated to local authority boundaries instead of the definitive ward-based measures, so is also quite misleading.
The article needs to be based on the most up to date reliably sourced information there is though, and at the moment that's the State of the Cities Database - even if it isn't comprehensive. Most of the SOCD data is sourced from the ONS anyway, and the ONS hardly seem to publish any TTWA data themselves.
JimmyGuano 07:28, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
I can't disagree with any of that! How do you suggest that we deal with the problem? I'd be tempted to remove the data altogether and go for a purely descriptive article. I can see two sections, "ONS definitions" and "State of the Cities definitions", with descriptions of both measures, mention of the issues with both sets of data (as you mention above). Each section would contain links to the relevant datasets - which would then enable both to be shown appropriately and should hopefully mean that the article won't degenerate into the confusing mess that it's currently in. Fingerpuppet 08:49, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure there are two entirely separate things of "ONS TTWA" and "SOCD TTWA" as you suggest. The State of the Cities team is quite clear that "TTWAs have been defined using the ONS definition: “of the resident economically active population, at least 75% actually work in the area, and also, that of everyone working in the area, at least 75% actually live in the area”" ([1]). There seems to be one idea to explain, not two.
As far as I can tell the major differences are:
  • that TTWAs are more important to the State of the Cities than they are to the ONS.
  • TTWAs therefore aren't a forgotten and out of date backwater for the State of the Cities - the data on the SOCD is a result of recent work. The current information available from the ONS seems to be a result of decade-old work at best.
  • The SOCD only publishes data for the 56 TTWAs based around large urban areas in England, because that's their job (though that's not to say that the other TTWAs don't exist for them - just that they ignore them).
  • The SOCD also have this second "TTWA approximated to local authority boundaries" idea, but this is in addition to rather than replacing the definitive ward-based ones and is done mainly because a lot of statistics are only available for aggregates of local authorities, so for these subjects it's closest guess or nothing. ([2])
I agree that the focus of the article should be on the idea of a TTWA, and that any data presented should be to illustrate and flesh out the idea rather than as the primary focus of the article (so that it doesn't degenerate into yet another of these competing "lists of the biggest"). The basic introduction of the current article just needs tidying up and adding to rather than completely ripping up IMO. The article then needs a sub-section specifically dealing with the State of the Cities explaining how this has raised TTWAs profile and hugely increased the amount of data available at this level, but only for the 56 specific TTWAs it covers. There should then be a short section of data similar to the current one but only using the ward-based data from the SOCD rather than the outdated ONS data and highly approximate local authority based SOCD data. If at any point the ONS publishes up to date information that includes Scotland and non-urban TTWAs then the article should use that instead, but at the moment the SOCD is the best available.
As a separate issue, do we need an article for the State of the Cities itself? It's probably the most notable development in the study of urban England for decades.
JimmyGuano 02:19, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm happy with that - however to suggest that the SOC's 56 areas are simply those based around the largest urban areas isn't quite true - there are several that are simply aggolomerations - for example the Birmingham SOC TTWA is a vague approximation to the combined Birmingham ONS TTWA, Wolverhampton and Walsall ONS TTWA and Sandwell and Dudley ONS TTWA. Greater Manchester, on the other hand, is split into "Manchester", "Bolton" and "Rochdale" areas. The article would need to mention this inconsistency. As for an article for the State of the Cities report itself - why not? Fingerpuppet 15:29, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Comparing the shapes of the 1998 ONS TTWAs here [3] with the 2007 SOC ones here [4] they're almost all different though - the Norwich and Ipswich and Swindon and Bristol TTWAs touch in the SOCD one, but they don't in the ONS one, the Tyneside, Plymouth, Bradford and Hull TTWAs are completely different shapes and as you say some 1998 TTWAs (such as Wolverhampton and Walsall, Slough and Woking) seem to have been swallowed up by other TTWAs completely.
Different resulting boundaries doesn't necessarily mean that the SOCD use a different definition though - especially when they explicitly state they use the same definition. The same definition can produce different results if it operates on different commuting data, and the 1998 ONS definitions were obviously developed before the 2001 census, while the SOCD ones followed it.
I agree that there is a clear inconsistency between TTWAs and Urban Areas, but that is more likely to come from the fact that the ONS and SOC do use completely different Urban Area definitions - the State of the Cities uses their own idea of a "Primary Urban Area", and the Manchester PUA is very different to the Urban Area defined by the ONS. That's probably something for a separate "Primary Urban Area" article though.
Anyway, I've added a bit more information into the text of the article and added separate sections for Definition and the State of the Cities. Does it look like an improvement? Although the data table is a bit of a mess my feeling is that we concentrate on the article first and when that's right finding the right data to illustrate it should be relatively easy.
JimmyGuano 22:20, 6 September 2007 (UTC)
I've tried to make a start on a Primary Urban Area article too. JimmyGuano 22:38, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I see what you mean. Fundamentally, the SOC areas are based upon PUAs, whereas the ONS areas appear to be based upon towns and cities - people living in the Birmingham SOC TTWA might well mostly commute to, say, Wolverhampton rather than Birmingham. I take your point about the differing shapes - though I'm quite astonished in the state of one Census, suddenly the 75% of people who worked in, say, Buxton, suddenly now work in Sheffield instead. Still, that's outside the remit of the article and most definitely into original research. It's certainly an improvement - thanks for your work so far. I agree with your comments re: the table, as it appears to use a combination of the two sets of data. And the PUA article is good too. Fingerpuppet 23:06, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

New ONS TTWAs[edit]

The ONS have now published 2007 TTWAs based upon the 2001 census. They are now listing 243 TTWAs, compared with over 300 in the 1997 variants. The article therefore needs updating. Fingerpuppet (talk) 20:32, 13 December 2007 (UTC)


I find two pieces of this article to be rather contradictory:

  • "indicate an area where the population would generally commute to a larger town, city or conurbation for the purposes of employment."
  • "of the resident economically active population, at least 75% actually work in the area, and also, that of everyone working in the area, at least 75% actually live in the area".

--Derek Andrews (talk) 11:24, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

I see what you mean - the second is a somewhat opaque formal definition, while the first is an only partially successful attempt to render this concept into a simple introductory form. Would:
'indicate an area, typically surrounding a major town, city or conurbation, in which a majority of those employed in the area live and a majority of the area residents work.'

make the situation any more clear do you think, or have I just complicated the description? --Neil (talk) 22:31, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

That sounds like a sensible approach, perhaps combining that with the Metropolitan Area (or city-region, which is a more familiar term to UK readers) mentions within the second paragraph. Fingerpuppet (talk) 11:17, 5 March 2009 (UTC)
I get it now. What helped me understand this was the map [5]. I think that what needs to be made clear is that every location in the uk is within a travel to work area. They have essentially defined boundaries that split the whole country into these units, just like counties. So a TWA like "Wells & Shepton Mallet" also includes Glastonbury (probably also Street), Cheddar and the surrounding rural area.
I think Neil's suggestion works fine, but would prefer "within which" to "in which". I would also append to the first paragraph "The UK is divided into 243 TTWAs" and add a ref to the map. --Derek Andrews (talk) 12:14, 5 March 2009 (UTC)


I've added a map showing the 2007 TTWAs. Unfortunately, for England and Wales only (this is because the data does not cover Scotland and NI). Its clearly not ideal, but its better than nothing and does illustrate how the TTWAs don't really relate to administrative boundaries.

As an aside, I have simplified the data somewhat - don't think there's noticeable degradation in quality?--Nilfanion (talk) 21:17, 3 November 2010 (UTC)