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A new report released today by the Texas Public Interest Research Group (TexPIRG) Education Fund and Frontier Group demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. The report, Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy, shows that young people in particular are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives.
“For the first time in two generations, there has been a significant shift in how many miles Americans are driving each year,” said Melissa Cubria, advocate for TexPIRG Education Fund. “America needs to understand these trends when deciding how to focus our future transportation investments, especially when transportation dollars are so scarce.”
Transportation and the New Generation reveals that for the first time since World War II, Americans are driving less and have been doing so since the middle of last decade. The report shows that by 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004.
“The shift away from six decades of increasing vehicle travel to a new reality of slow-growing or even declining vehicle travel has potentially seismic implications for transportation policy,” says Benjamin Davis, analyst with Frontier Group. “It calls into question the very wisdom of our current transportation investment priorities.”
This trend away from driving is even more pronounced among young people. The average young person (age 16-34) drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than the average young person in 2001. The report notes that the percentage of 19-year-olds with a driver's license also plummeted from 92 percent in 1978 to merely 77 percent in 2008.
“As decision makers, we need to pay attention to emerging trends to make sure that our transportation infrastructure will meet our future needs,” said Cubria. “In Texas, we have noticed young people are driving less and using more public transportation.
According to the report, between 2001 and 2009, the annual number of miles traveled by 16 to 34 year olds on public transit such as trains and buses increased by 40 percent.
“America's transportation preferences appear to be changing. Our elected officials need to make transportation decisions based on the real needs of Americans in the 21st century,” concluded Cubria.
The report can be downloaded here.
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