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TRENTON - A new report released today by the NJPIRG Law and Policy Center 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 Gideon Weissman, NJPIRG Program Associate. “America needs to understand these trends when deciding how to focus our future transportation investments, especially when transportation dollars are so scarce. In New Jersey, moving forward with new transit projects like the Gateway Tunnel is a good response.”
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 average vehicle miles traveled per year by New Jersey residents fell by 461 miles between 2007 and 2010.
“Clearly, more Americans are demanding walkable, compact communities that offer a variety of transportation options," said Janna Chernetz, New Jersey Advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "This is good news for our economy and environment but means New Jersey's funding for transit, biking and walking projects must keep pace with rising demand."
“The newest numbers from the Census Bureau confirm that a greater number, and a larger share, of New Jersey commuters are relying on transit ,” said Dan Fatton, Outreach and Development Director with New Jersey Future. “Additionally, employers are finding that they need to be in a transit-friendly location in order to attract top talent , especially among the Millennial generation. These and other data reinforce the need for New Jersey to provide a robust and accessible transit network if we are to stay economically competitive.”
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 also notes that a growing number of young Americans do not have driver’s licenses; from 2000 to 2010, the share of 14 to 34-year-olds without a license increased from 21 percent to 26 percent.
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.
“I take the train to school six days a week, because I know it’s the greener option, and besides – I don’t even have a driver’s license. I know that lots of my classmates do the same thing,” said Katie Nuber, a senior at Rutgers Newark and intern with the NJPIRG Student Chapters. “New Jersey is taking mass transit more than ever before, and our leaders need to start figuring out how to build the modern transportation infrastructure that my generation will need for the future.”
“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, co-author of the report and an analyst with the Frontier Group. “It calls into question the wisdom of our current transportation investment priorities.”
“New Jersey’s transportation preferences appear to be changing. Our elected officials need to make transportation decisions based on the real needs of New Jersey in the 21st century,” concluded Weissman.
The report can be downloaded here: http://njpirgcenter.org/reports/njf/transportation-and-new-generation.
See additional charts and data on following pages
NJPIRG Law and Policy Center, a 501©(3) organization, works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, and educate the public.
Frontier Group is a non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue public policy organization that produces ideas and research to promote a cleaner environment and a fairer and more democratic society.
State Year Population Total Vehicle Miles Traveled (Millions) Vehicle Miles Traveled Per Capita
Vehicle Miles Traveled (Millions)
Vehicle Miles Traveled per Capita
Source: US Census, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics, VM-2
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