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Generational travel trends, how long will they last

Generational travel trends, how long will they last

It is believed that Millennials (also called Generation Y) are commuting differently than those of preceding generations, relying less on cars and choosing to walk, bike, or use transit. A 2014 survey showed that this generation prefers to live in cities that offer multiple transportation options. As HRTPO decides how to fund projects in the future, it is important to know whether these trends will last, and for how long. Last month, HRTPO staff began investigating the specific causes of changes in Millennials’ travel behavior.

There is plentiful existing research that evaluates current travel behavior of the general population. For example, it has been noted that the decades-long growth in national vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) has stagnated in recent years, but may be increasing again (see chart). In the HRTPO study, staff are focusing specifically on the effects that age, generation, and historical events may have on usage of alternative transportation modes such as transit. For example, shifts in mode choice across members of different generations may be due to economic and income factors, and could rebound with an improving economy.

In order to give an accurate depiction of what’s going on in generational travel behavior, staff are utilizing data collected by the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) from 1983 to 2009. Trips will be categorized by generation, survey year and age group to isolate the impact of each factor on people’s transportation decisions. This national data will be compared to similar data for travelers in Hampton Roads.

The draft report for this study is scheduled to be presented to the Transportation Technical Advisory Committee (TTAC) at their July 1, 2015 meeting.


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