Young Americans are turning to transit as a way to save money, connect with their communities, expand their workdays and reduce their environmental impact.
Those are among the takeaways from a pair of new reports out this week from the American Public Transportation Association and the Public Interest Research Group. Taken together, the reports add new insights on why young people -- so-called Millennials born between 1982 and 2003 -- are giving up driving in favor of transit, as well as carsharing, walking and bicycling.
In the APTA study, nearly half of respondents said they used public transit in order to save money. Convenience and interest in the environment were cited as other strong motivations. APTA's survey also found that nearly half of respondents who used transit said doing so allowed them to feel more connected to their community and gave them more opportunities to socialize online, avoiding the dangers of texting and driving.
The survey results are based on more than 1,000 online responses from 22- to 34-year-olds in six U.S. cities. The Twin Cities were not included in the study.
Meanwhile, the PIRG report tied the growing interest in transit use to a spike in the use of technology. The report suggests that the proliferation of mobile apps with transit information has helped eliminate barriers to taking transit and allowed people to "adopt a 'car-free' or 'car-light' lifestyles that dramatically reduce driving."
PIRG reports that, nationally, Americans 16 to 34 years old drove 23 percent less in 2009 than they did in 2001. In Minnesota, the annual per-person vehicle miles traveled fell more than 4 percent between 2005 and 2011, according to PIRG.
A recent Travel Behavior Inventory survey released by the Metropolitan Council found metro residents took fewer overall trips between 2000 and 2010 while the average number of vehicles and licenses per household has also decreased. Transit, carpooling, biking and walking all increased in the region over the last decade, however.
> USA Today: Young people driving less, embrace other transportation
> APTA: Millennials & Mobility: Understanding the Millennial mindest
> U.S. PIRG: A New Way To Go
> NPR: Millennials and The Changing Car Culture
> Star Tribune: Driving is down, transit use up in metro area
> MinnPost: Despite population growth, car use declining in the Twin Cities
> Wi-Fi access on select Northstar cars
> Apps put transit in the palm of your hand