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Majority of millennials want access to better transit options

Posted on April 29, 2014

Photo: Michael Tapp via Flickr

A large majority of millennials want access to better transit options and the ability to be less reliant on a car, according to a new survey of millennials in 10 major U.S. cities, released by The Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America.

More than half (54%) of millennials surveyed say they would consider moving to another city if it had more and better options for getting around, and 66% say that access to high quality transportation is one of the top three criteria they would weight when deciding where to live.

The survey, conducted by Global Strategy Group, examined millennials' perceptions and attitudes towards public transportation in 10 major U.S. cities across three 'tiers' of transportation systems – "mature" (Chicago, New York City, San Francisco),"growing" (Charlotte, N.C.;  Denver;  Los Angeles; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.) and "aspiring" (Indianapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.).

According to the survey, millennials aspire to be less reliant on a car. Almost half (46%) of current vehicle owners surveyed agree they would seriously consider giving up their car if they could count on a range of transportation options. Only 27% of millennials in cities with "mature" public transportation systems (including Chicago, New York, San Francisco) say it is very important to have regular access to a car or truck in their city, versus 60% of millennials living in cities with "growing" transit systems (including Charlotte, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul) and 82% of Millennials living in cities with "aspiring" public transportation systems (including Indianapolis, Nashville, Tampa-St. Petersburg).

Millennials say it is important for their city to offer opportunities to live and work without relying on a car (86% agree in mature cities, 82% in growing cities, and 77% in aspiring cities).

"Young people are the key to advancing innovation and economic competitiveness in our urban areas, and this survey reinforces that cities that don't invest in effective transportation options stand to lose out in the long-run," says Michael Myers, a managing director at The Rockefeller Foundation. "As we move from a car-centric model of mobility to a nation that embraces more equitable and sustainable transportation options, Millennials are leading the way."

Saving money is a key driver for many Millennials looking for more public transportation options, particularly among low-income respondents:

•   A majority of millennials (70%) who currently do not have regular access to a vehicle say they could not afford to live in an area without access to public transportation. Those without access to a vehicle make up 15% of the millennial population and are disproportionately lower-income.

•    86% of millennials say that it is important that their city offer a low-cost public transportation system with affordable fares. This is especially true of Millennials who earn less than $30,000 a year (92% important).

•    Almost two-thirds of millennials (64%) say that the expense of owning a car is a major reason they want be less reliant on one, including 77% of Millennials who earn less than $30,000 a year.

The benefits of improved public transit aren’t limited to not wanting to depend on a car to get around. Almost all millennials (91%) also believe that investing in quality public transportation systems creates more jobs and improves the economy.

When asked about transportation options, such as public transportation, car- and bike-sharing services, and pedestrian friendly streets, 80% of millennials say it's important to have a wide range of options, and over half of millennials surveyed (54%) would consider moving to another city if it offered a wider, better range of options for getting around.

"These findings confirm what we have heard from the business and elected leaders we work with across the country," said James Corless, director of Transportation for America. "The talented young workforce that every region is trying to recruit expects to live in places where they can find walkable neighborhoods with convenient access to public transportation. Providing those travel and living options will be the key to future economic success."

While cities with mature and growing transportation systems are providing a convenient and reliable public transportation system for most millennials, there is still room for improvement. Only 38% of millennials in aspiring cities rate their city as doing an excellent or good job providing a wide range of transportation options, including public transportation and car- and bike-sharing services. In cities with mature public transportation systems, 75% of millennials rate their city as doing an excellent or good job providing a wide range of transportation options. 84% of millennials in aspiring cities however, would like more public transportation options.

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