As millennials continue to shun cars, experts say trend should not be dismissed as byproduct of bad economy
This story by Emily Badger for The Washington Post appeared in the October 25 edition of the Hartford Courant, section M page 1.
There’s a lot of evidence that millennials don’t drive as much — or care as much about cars in general — as previous generations their own age did. They’re less likely to get driver’s licenses. They tend to take fewer car trips, and when they do, those trips are shorter. They’re also more likely than older generations to get around by alternative means: by foot, by bike or by transit.
There’s still a lot of dispute, however, over exactly what these trends mean. Are millennial driving habits a byproduct of the weak economy? (If you have no job to go to, chances are you drive less.) Or do they signal deep and permanent shifts in the American relationship to automobiles? If the latter is true, these nascent millennial indicators could have major implications not just for car dealers and gas stations, but for how the U.S. invests in transportation.
Researchers who have been tracking these trends at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Frontier Group argue that the case is growing stronger for a major and lasting change in how today’s youngest would-be drivers — and those who follow them — use cars.
Researchers Tony Dutzik, Jeff Inglis and Phineas Baxandall argue that millennials “have the most to gain or lose from the transportation investment decisions we make today, as they will be affected by those investments for decades to come.”
Their report defines millennials as born between 1983 and 2000, the youngest of whom are just on the verge of their first driver’s licenses (should they chose to get them). The case for durable changes in their behavior — beyond the recession — is three-fold.
Read the full story here.
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