A recent article in the New York Times described a curious trend that’s showing up in countries as varied as Germany, Norway, Canada and Japan – a trend that shows fewer young people are driving cars compared to their parents.
The findings show that Millennials – people currently in their twenties – are less likely to get their driver’s licence now than in previous generations. Young people are more likely to take transit or cycle, and overall, the number of car trips taken on a per capita basis has been declining for the last several years. In the US, people in their twenties drive about 20% less than their parents did when they were in their twenties.
There are quite a number of studies that together confirm this trend, although there’s no agreement on what is causing it. Increasing gas prices and weak economic climates in some countries may have contributed to this trend, researchers feel that other longer-term dynamics are the real reason young people are increasingly turning away from the car and finding other ways to get around.
One key theory is that increasing urbanization is a critical factor. In this theory, when people live within walking distance (defined as roughly 500 metres) from transit, it’s easier to leave the keys at home and let transit do the driving.
Whatever the reason, other recent studies carried out show that while baby boomers are ageing beyond the years when they drive the most miles, Millennials aren’t picking up the slack. The result is that total miles driven is steadily decreasing, and is projected to continue to do so over time.
This change is bound to require a shift in long-term transportation policies developed by governments, including an increased investment in transit.
York Region residents do a lot of driving covering a large geographic area, and even with the launch of vivaNext along its major corridors, there’s no doubt this pattern isn’t going to change overnight. But as it does, we’re going to be in good shape, thanks to our vivaNext plans for region-wide rapid transit giving residents more options. We are already seeing the trend here with transit ridership increasing every year.