'Little Evidence of a Substantial Cultural Turn' Away from Driving Among Millennials

According to an analysis of U.S. National Travel Surveys, the Millennial preference for non-automotive travel is mostly hype. Millennials show behavior similar to other age groups and respond to the economy.
May 16, 2018, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Gustavo Frazao

Evelyn Blumenberg and Brian D. Taylor have heard the dominant narrative about the travel preferences of Millennials:

Among the many traits thought to make millennials unique is their travel. They drive less, ride public transit and bicycles more, and have a stronger desire to live in walkable urban communities. Or so the story goes.

But what if that story is wrong? Blumenberg and Taylor wondered the same thing and dug into the data for answers, examining data from the U.S. National Travel Surveys for 1990, 2001, and 2009, regarding "range of information on travel over time, detailed personal and household characteristics, and spatial information…" Their findings do indeed tell a different story:

In a nutshell, we found little evidence of a substantial cultural turn by millennials away from cars and suburbs. We found some evidence of generation-specific declines in driving among millennials, but the effects were modest. So what did have the biggest effect on millennial travel? The economy. Most of the drop in driving was likely due to the effects of the Great Recession.

To further elucidate the truth about Millennial mobility choices, the duo set out to answer eight questions, detailed further in the source article.

For more recent news on generational travel trends, see also a Planetizen post sharing the news about increasing vehicle miles traveled among young, low-income Americans.

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Published on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in Transfers
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