A new poll shows that access to public transportation is “very important” for Millennials in considering where to live and where to work.  80% of those polled said access to public transportation was very important in choosing where to live, while 78% said having their work place near transit was important, much more so than office amenities like a gym, cafeteria, coffee bar, or proximity to restaurants and nightlife options.  And transit passes (paid for by their employer) were seen as more important to work satisfaction than access to parking.1

While the poll was limited to a subset of Millennials –- young professionals in Boston -- it supports our research over the past few years that found Millennials are driving less than older generations and are more prone to walk, bike, or take transit to get where they need to go.

But why is it that Millennials have chosen to forsake the car? Our report Millennials in Motion cites a number of reasons.  Millennials are:

  • Changing Timing of Life Stages: They’re waiting longer to get married, have children, are going to college more, and are waiting longer to move out of their parents’ house than previous generations which has led to less driving.
  • Changing Lifestyles: Millennials are less interested in owning a car, want to live in walkable areas more – according to the survey, one in three Millennials don’t plan on ever moving to the suburbs.
  • Facing Higher Hurdles for Youth Driving: Graduated drivers licenses, which require more time and training to get a full license, deter some from getting licenses and colleges are taking steps to limit the amount of cars on campus.
  • Adopting New Technologies and Transportation Options: New technology has allowed the development of new transportation options (like ride-share and bike-shares among others), made it easier to use existing forms of transportation, and makes the time spent commuting move valuable by allowing people to stay connected/be productive while in transit.

As a Millennial myself, I can relate to many of these reasons above. I went to college where I didn’t have, want, or need a car. I’m not yet married (nor do I plan to be for a long while) and want to live in walkable areas where I can get to the grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and other attractions without a car.  But it’s the availability of technology has largely enabled me to realize that want – a number of apps allow me to find the closest bike share, map the fastest bus route home, reserve a car, or order a ride at the touch of a button.

The reasons Millennials as a whole are driving less is varied and complicated, but as the largest generation, they’re the ones with the most to gain or lose from a lack of investment in public transportation.  The decisions we make today are will define how we’re able to navigate our cities in the future and it’s clear that Millennials want more public transportation.  It’s time for our city leaders to head that call.

1Urban Land Institute Boston/New England & MassINC Polling Center, "What Millennials Want," November 9th, 2015