October 12th, 2014 by Cynthia Shahan
The latest Census data from the 2013 American Community Survey examines changes of younger and older commuters — focusing on the country’s largest metropolitan areas. Millennials and Generation Xers are apparently more multimodal than those of previous generations. Consideration and use of mass transit, biking, walking, as well as driving are in the mix of their choices.
Unlike Europe, where people count on mass transit in many situations and it is readily there for them, the US has for six decades been an automobile-led society. Millennials identify with the automobiles differently than baby boomers who are perhaps too attached to them, however. Millennials go for diversity of modes, including public transportation and walking, while the numbers still show very high levels of car use by baby boomers.
Economics and practicality play a large part into this trend towards reduced driving. The trend, however, exists even among young people who are doing well financially with gainful employment. More people choose an apartment or house while considering proximity to good transit.
The new Census data estimate that over 85% of all workers still get to their jobs by private automobile. According to Brookings, this is also “relatively consistent with our commuting patterns from 1980, when nearly the same percentage of workers commuted by car.” Although, Brookings continues by pointing out that those long-term trends mask real changes over the past few years.
“The share of national commuters traveling by private vehicle is edging down for the first time in decades—from 86.5 percent in 2007 to 85.8 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, other transportation modes have grown in relative importance.”