Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Study Released on "Transportation and the New Generation"

Fronier Group--a non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue research and public policy organization formed in 1996--published a transportation-related study in April 2012 with help from the US PIRG Education Fund.

Photo: Regional Transit System (RTS) for the City of Gainesville, Florida

The study is called Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People Are Driving Less and What It Means for Transportation Policy. 

See the Frontier Group's portal page for the study. The Executive Summary is presented, as well as links to the complete study and a webinar slide presentation.

Here are the basic facts:
  • From 2001 to 2009, the average annual number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for young people (16 to 34 yrs) decreased by 23%.
  • The share of this age group without a driver's license increased by 5%.
  • They walked to their designations 6% more often.
  • Their transit miles jumped by 40%.
  • They took 24% more bike trips during this period.

Why? Generational research indicates that young people's transportation priorities and preferences differ from those of older generations.
  • They would prefer to replace driving with alternative transportation.
  • They prefer to live in areas that are walkable.
  • They would prefer to text and use social media than to meet friends via car.

Here's a key graph from the report illustrating VMT per capital since 1970.
Figure ES-1: Vehicle-Miles Traveled Per Capita Peaked in 2004

The central conclusion of the report is the following:
America has long created transportation policy under the assumption that driving will continue to increase at a rapid and steady rate. The changing transportation preferences of young people – and Americans overall – throw that assumption into doubt. Policy-makers and the public need to be aware that America’s current transportation policy – dominated by road building – is fundamentally out-of-step with the transportation patterns and expressed preferences of growing numbers of Americans. It is time for policy-makers to consider the implication of changes in driving habits for the nation’s transportation infrastructure decisions and funding practices, and consider a new vision for transportation policy that reflects the needs of 21st century America.

What do you think are the implications for this trend for transportation planning and policy?


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