among the young, decline in driving is not about poverty

From Jake Blumgart at GOOD, an important factoid about the decline in driving among young adults:

An April study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that between 2001 and 2009 the average annual vehicle miles traveled by Americans ages 16 to 34 fell by close to a quarter, from 10,300 to 7,900 per capita (four times greater than the drop among all adults), and from 12,800 to 10,700 among those with jobs. At the same time, the amount of bicycling, walking, and public transit ridership increased. And these trends aren’t just among broke millennials. There was an 100 percent increase in public transit usage among young people with incomes over $70,000.

Would love to see some stats on what Millennials do when they start families, compared to those a generation ago.  


13 Responses to among the young, decline in driving is not about poverty

  1. Dan November 21, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    I am one of those millenials who could easily afford a car, but recently replaced his car with public transport and occasionally carsharing, and I could not be happier. I save a lot of time and money that were previously spent on maintaining a car.
    What makes you think that I would want a car when I have kids? Why would I not be able to take public transport with kids?

  2. Morgan Wick November 21, 2012 at 8:06 am #

    Dan, where do you live, both in terms of city/metro area and whether you live in a single-family house or an apartment?
    How do you imagine your kids’ day generally going?

  3. Dave November 21, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    I’m a millenial with a wife and one-year-old, and we live a “low-car” lifestyle. We primarily use a car to drop off our daughter at daycare and go grocery shopping. I bike to work and my wife takes the bus. We rent, but when we buy we’ll make sure to be close enough to transit that we can continue this commute pattern.
    I think we’re pretty typical of people we know. Car use tends to go up a bit with a kid, but it hasn’t changed our generally positive attitude toward transit alternatives.

  4. Matt MSP November 21, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    I just got married and my wife and I are currently in “pretend we have one car mode.” Assuming this goes well, we’re planning to go from two cars to one. So not a no-car lifestyle, but we’re currently looking at other ways to manage our commute so we can drive as little as possible. I actually started a car share back in the day and this is the reason it’s doing so well… what a waste to pay a lot to store a car, or pay alot alot to drive a car, when it’s a frustration anyways? There are major cost reasons for this too:

  5. Iain November 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Exactly the same phenomenon is occurring here in the UK. I am another one of those 16 to 34s. I have a wife and children and we have been car-free now for almost a year. We live in a big city and I suppose it’s only possible because of the good local public transportation. We can always hire a car cheaply and conveniently too when required.
    I think one of the key drivers of the change among young people is technology. Firstly, young people approaching car driving age seem to live their lives on the internet – having a car to go and hang out with friends is a little less necessary. Secondly, it seems every young person has a smartphone and can make use of the time on public transportation texting, sending emails, checking facebook, etc. Why would they want to lose this time driving and pay more for doing so? This benefit is not perceived by the mass of car drivers.

  6. Glenn November 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    A possible reason may be that the drivers licensing standards are more onerous than in decades past leading many to adopting a car less lifestyle?

  7. Maccoinnich November 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm #

    @Glenn, I assure that they’re not, at least in the US. I got my driver’s license in Oregon last year, at the age of 26, and I was amazed at how easy the test was. It took about 15 minutes, in an automatic, an didn’t even require proving that I could parallel park, or drive outside of quiet suburban streets.
    I could easily afford a car, but prefer spending money on other things. I mostly cycle, walk, or take the bus.

  8. Neil November 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    I don’t see that parenting will change the “car-less” status of millenials, though no doubt – like previous generations – they will still drive more as they age, just less than the previous generation at similar points in their life. Some errands are most conveniently run by car, and having kids means having more errands.
    But a combination of different attitudes, increased urbanization, and better transit infrastructure in cities of all sizes (than in other recent generations) means that a higher proportion of errands are more conveniently run without a car.

  9. Daniel Howard November 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    We are expecting a child so we recently got a second car with more safety features that will enable me to get away from work quickly to address child-related needs. Any given day I choose between the easy convenience of a 20 minute drive versus a 60 minute bus-light rail connection. The latter allows me to read, but the former gives me back an hour and a half of my day.
    As the kid gets older I’ll probably err more toward public transit for commuting but for now, I’m an old-fashioned suburban dad-to-be, with a shiny new Camry waiting for the next errand I need to run.
    Also, we will be moving to a new office with lousier transit options, but hopefully in time our region’s transit will improve.
    Sunnyvale, CA

  10. Tim - Taxis to Heathrow February 25, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    That’s expected to happen when you increase the insurance costs for that age group!

  11. Tiberiu - Stansted Shuttle October 17, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    Cars cost more money and, depending on the area you live in, consumes more time than public transport. Sometimes it’s much better to use public transport.

  12. John M - Luton Transfers March 20, 2014 at 1:11 am #

    Considering the traffic during rush hours in big cities like NY or London you save a lot of time if you use public transport such as the tube.

  13. TCC March 7, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

    I believe it is due to change of lifestyle and recommendations by more economic methods of transportation.