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Boston—A new report released today by MASSPIRG Education Fund demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of the 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 are increasingly disinterested in driving and prefer transportation alternatives.
“For the first time in two generations, there is a significant shift in how many miles Americans are driving each year,” said Lizzi Weyant, staff attorney at MASSPIRG Education Fund. “Elected officials and transportation decision-makers must be mindful of these trends when they allocate scarce transportation dollars. This is particularly important in light of the significant underfunding of the MBTA.”
Transportation and the New Generation reveals that for the first time since World War II, Americans are driving less. From 2004 to 2011, the average American drove 6 percent fewer miles each per year. The average young person drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than the average young person in 2001. In nearly the same timeframe, the percentage of young people without a license increased from 21 percent to 26 percent.
“Just yesterday the MBTA voted to raise public transportation fares 23%. This report shows that not only is it bad public policy, it’s bad economic policy. Young people, the backbone of the commonwealth, are clamoring for more public transportation,” said Weyant. “MASSPIRG has student chapters across the state, and from the Berkshires to the Cape, young people are clear about their choices: they would rather have good public transportation options than the hassle and expense of driving a car.”
According to the report, between 2001 and 2009, the annual number of miles traveled by young people on public transportation increased by 40 percent.
Wendy Landman, Executive Director of WalkBoston, said that young people’s desire to live and work in walkable communities is reflected in business location decisions. “National research shows that over the coming decades real estate values are anticipated to rise fastest in communities with a compact mix of residential and commercial districts in a pedestrian-friendly configuration,” continued Landman.
“Now is the time to invest in public transportation. Particularly as people’s transportation choices appear to be changing, our elected officials need to make transportation decisions based on our 21st century choices and needs,” concluded Weyant.
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