Having a car is becoming less of a necessity for millennials, who are increasingly depending on public transportation, ridesharing services or their bicycles to get around.
Lately, Americans’ use of vehicles has slowly been declining; researchers say that young people are driving this trend. There has been a significant decline in young people getting their licenses and also in their eagerness to drive, according to U.S. Public Interest Research Group data.
This trend has caused many millennials to start using other means of transportation.
This evolving transportation culture emphasizes conservation of environmental and personal resources and saving people time.
One trend that has taken off with millennials is ridesharing, or car sharing services. This idea is based off the use of smartphones, social networks, and GPS navigation systems.
Some of the most popular companies that are thriving off of this “shared economy” are:
Philip Trom, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Senior Transportation Planner, said that carpooling is the foundation for all of these innovations.
“Technology is accelerated,” Trom said. “Innovators incorporate technology into the growing number of ways people transport themselves.”
Trom said he sees people with cars relying on other forms of transit. He suggests millennials are helping this progression because of their expertise in technology.
Trends in transportation
One popular trend in the transportation industry is ridesharing. The popularity of these companies has people turning to other people to drive for them, all through an app on their smartphones.
These services are available in most large cities. Ridesharing, part of the shared economy, is becoming more relevant as people want to try these services for a cheap price.
Brandon Bennett, an Uber driver, said he initially sought the job because he liked what the company did.
“It provides people an easy, safe way to get around,” Bennett said. “I get to drive some interesting people, whether they are commuting to work or going out with their friends.”
Bennett’s load per shift is around six rides, costing the customers anywhere from $7 – $10 each.
“I think these services are going to be around a long time,” Bennett said.
Uber isn’t the only service getting people where they need to go. Another ride-sharing service, Lyft, paves the way for accessible rides, all the time, and focuses on the “friend picking you up” mentality.
MULTIMEDIA: Driver Jonathan Maskevich says that Lyft’s pricing is centralized. If it were up to him, he would charge less so there would be a higher demand for rides.
Lyft has recently introduced “Lyft Line,” which is a service that can pick up multiple passengers from the same area and drop them off in generally the same location.
This project is currently only available in three cities, according to Mary Caroline Pruitt, communications coordinator for Lyft.
She said the service will be accessible for commuters and less expensive than if they were to ride by themselves. It also reduces travel time by significant amounts.
“Lyft is different because it is real people driving real people,” Pruitt said. “We didn’t just set out to provide a better taxi or black car service; our vision is to reconnect people and communities through better transportation.”
A study done by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group shows the shift away from automobile use. This report reviewed data from the Federal Transit Administration, Federal Highway Administration and the Census Bureau.
According to the public data released by the Office of Highway Policy Information, the number of automobiles owned by Americans has been dropping since 2008, declining from 137 million vehicles. This follows a 1989 pattern.
In California, this number has been declining at 3-million increments since year 2009.
San Diego plans to increase transportation options
San Diego is following trends with a “San Diego Forward” plan, which invites residents to imagine what the region will look like in 2050, namely alternative modes of transportation and easier access to public transit.
The basis of this plan is to build a system that has a number of different travel choices for residents, so they do not have to rely on cars. An added bonus: it reduces traffic.
Trom said this plan will act as a multimodal solution for San Diego residents.
“We are following the direction of land use planning,” Trom said. “Our goal is to make the transition more seamless and add mobility hubs as focal points for different modes of transit. This will cut down on time and make it easier for people to use multiple modes of transportation for the same trip.”
Trom said that the planners use demographic data to reflect changing preferences of generations, such as millennials wanting to live in popular areas and seniors getting to the ages where they won’t be driving anymore.
The SANDAG transportation program put a plan in motion for a more diverse, easier-access bicycle plan that will continue through 2050.
The San Diego Regional Bicycle Plan incorporates:
- a system of interconnected bicycle corridors
- bicycling programs and support facilities
- increased safety for pedestrians and riders
- ‘Complete Streets,’ emphasizing safely accommodating all users
The overall goal is to make it exponentially easier for residents to rely on public transportation and bicycles and to be smarter about their impact on the environment.
By 2050, San Diego highways will look different, according to the San Diego Forward plan. Improvements will connect public transit to freeways and give users more options for their commutes.