Young people relying less and less on auto travel 

click to enlarge S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner file photo

Travelers of all ages are becoming less reliant on automobiles, and the drop has been most significant among young people.

Between 2001 and 2009, the number of miles driven by people between the ages of 16 and 34 dropped 23 percent, according to a study released Thursday by the California Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization. During that time period, the number of miles traveled on public transit increased by 40 percent for people of that age group, the study showed.

Overall, private-auto miles have decreased by 6 percent nationwide in the past seven years.

Increased fuel prices, a greater awareness of the environment and a stronger desire to live in urban areas with robust public transportation systems are all contributing factors in the decline in auto reliance among young Americans, the CALPIRG study said.

Young people are increasingly turning to other modes of travel, such as biking and walking. In 2009, people between 16 and 34 years old were 24 percent more likely to take bike trips than they were in 2001, and they were 16 percent more likely to walk.

John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s lead transit planning agency, said there is no regional data to support the CALPIRG study. However, he said trends noticed anecdotally by the MTC indicate that more young people are opting to rely less on vehicles and more on alternative modes of travel.

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Will Reisman

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