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Why Millennials Are Shifting Commuter Trends

America’s future may be riding on public transportation, but the true keepers of public transit’s destiny are millennials. While they’re often stereotyped in daily news headlines, this tech-savvy civic-minded generation knows how to get around. In fact, nearly 70 percent of millennials use multiple modes of transportation to get around the city or suburbs, with public transit topping the list as a generational favorite due to its ability to connect all other modes.IMG_0548

This generation wants choices when it comes to transportation. Getting around should be low-cost, green, convenient, and much more. I commend this generation and believe we should welcome this trend. Increased public transportation — and active transportation use — improves the environment, saves money, and enhances commuters’ quality of life. As for communities, those who do not accommodate the millennial demand are at risk of losing millennials are other places altogether.

Yes, Americans have been driving less and only 49 percent of 17-year-olds are licensed to drive compared to 75 percent in 1978. So what explains this shift? I believe it starts with millennials’ worldview. More than other generations, they “appear to be more interested in living lives defined by meaning,” according to Stanford Professor Jennifer Aaker and Emily Esfahani Smith of the Hoover Institution.

Millennials act on that desire for meaning — to “make a difference” — even when deciding how to get from place to place. To give some reasoning behind their interest in meaning they have specifically cited ease of use, lower environmental impact, and the sense of community it fosters. This interest aligns directly with a recent University of Minnesota study, which found that living closer to light rail lines is associated with a higher degree of life satisfaction.

To learn more about why and how millennials are shifting commuter trends in America, read my entire column via USA Today.

– Peter Varga
CEO of The Rapid

Do you think cities are doing enough to cater to multimodal lifestyles?

Written by Peter Varga

CEO of The Rapid and Chair of the American Public Transportation Association.