For a while now, it has been clear that the Millennial generation is not nearly as interested in driving as the Baby Boomer generation, a trend that has been attributed to numerous reasons, including the weak economy and increased environmental awareness. With a decreasing desire to drive, Millennials are embracing new transportation habits, that include using other, more cost-effective and eco-friendly means of transportation, besides cars. What’s more, they don’t even seem to want to own cars at all, as they feel that they can get around just fine using alternative transportation options, such as biking, mass transit, sharing rides, and walking.
That is the basis of the multi-modal transportation concept, a trend that is quite popular among the millennial generation nowadays. This trend was once again highlighted recently, in a report focused on the reasons behind Millennials’ declining interest in driving, published by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. The report cites data from study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety from 2013, according to which, 54% of teenagers obtain a driver’s license before they turn 18, whereas twenty years ago, over 60% of teens did that. Also, only 44% of them get a license within a year after they become eligible for a driver’s license.
In Minnesota, the number of 18-year olds who held a driver’s license in 2013 was 50,688, down from 51,603 in 2011. According to the report, the reduced number of driver’s licenses for teenagers is in large part a result of the increased popularity of social media, online shopping, as well as telecommuting, in addition to the economic factors.
Another reason for the decline in car ownership among Millennials, which are defined as those born between 1983 and 2000, and are estimated to represent about 25% of the U.S. population, is that they have more alternative transportation options at their disposal. In the Twin Cities, for example, over the past 10 years, the bus-rapid transit and the light-rail networks have been expanded significantly, with the addition of the Blue and Green light-rail lines, along with the Red Line and the Northstar Commute bus rapid transit lines. On top of that, local authorities have invested a lot into the bike infrastructure, and the number of users of car-sharing services has grown drastically lately, with companies like Zipcar, Car2Go and Hourcar being quite popular, as well as ride-sharing services, with the likes of Uber and Lyft deterring many people from driving their own cars.
Lastly, the report cites the fact that Millennials prefer to live in urban areas as another factor contributing to the decreasing interest in driving. There are obviously many benefits to living in an urban area, rather than a suburb or a rural area, such as the abundance of shopping and dining options, as well as commercial office space, that are often within a walking distance of residential areas, thus further reducing the need of driving, or owning a car.
While the economy may be on the road to recovery, which will surely help eliminate the economic factors behind the reduction in car ownership and driving among Millennials, the growth of online shopping, and the rising popularity of trends like walkability and connectivity through social media will deepen their love/hate relationship with cars, and will enhance their negative attitude toward driving.