Thursday, December 16, 2010

More drivers ditching car keys

We've been saying it for a while and now Census data is confirming that younger residents of the DC area are doing less driving and using transit and bicycling more to travel to local destinations. From the Post article today More D.C. area commuters leaving the driving to others, census data show that discusses the data:
Transportation experts said the gains in public transit were in part the result of higher gas prices but also reflected the influx of younger residents who refuse to spend long hours in the car. Many of those in their 20s and 30s have chosen to live in vibrant neighborhoods along bus, Metro and rail lines, even if it means sacrificing the suburban amenities of their childhoods.

"They came of age in an environment of urbane media influences, watching 'Friends' and 'Seinfeld,' not 'Leave It to Beaver,' " said Shyam Kannan of the Bethesda-based real estate advisory firm RCLCO.

"They watched their parents spend hours on the road, and they're not into that," Kannan added. "This is a group that is lifestyle conscious and time conscious, and they've decided they would rather be texting and tweeting from the Metro."

The gains in public transportation, while small, are nevertheless significant in an area choked with traffic.

"The good news is that it only takes a few percentage points to make a difference in easing some of the problems on our roadways," said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth.

Some say the census statistics actually understate the growing popularity of public transportation. They fail to account for people who carpool, ride Metro a couple times a week, or drive to a Park and Ride lot and take the bus the rest of the way.

"We might have seen an even greater increase if not for the fact that Generation Y has been dramatically underemployed," he said. "The number of 30-year-old men living in the basement of their parents' home has kept them from using transit. When they find work and return to the workforce, the data suggest they will make the trade-off of a larger house for proximity to work, shopping and transit."

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