Millennials Driving Habits Revisited

Background Reading


Stefanie Korzyniewski, 30, of Chicago's Southwest Side, parks near downtown.( Lenny Gilmore / RedEye ) (Lenny Gilmore/Redeye)

Stefanie Korzyniewski, 30, of Chicago’s Southwest Side, parks near downtown.( Lenny Gilmore / RedEye ) (Lenny Gilmore/Redeye)


The article begins:

I think if I moved into the city more, I would probably be more likely to start using public transportation…I think the area where I’m at, it’s just easier to drive everywhere.Stefanie Korzyniewski, who lives on Chicago’s Southwest Side

The article continues with:

“For me, it’s a lot easier for me to just drive than to wait for buses or trains. Sometimes the CTA is a little unreliable,” Harvey said.

By many measures, Millennials are driving less than older generations, but Census figures show the commuting habits of Chicago-area 20-somethings haven’t that changed much in 20 years: Driving is still the most popular way Millennials get to work.

A recent Census analysis found that 75.9 percent of residents in the Chicago area ages 18-34 said they drove or carpooled to work from 2009-2013, down from 78.3 percent in 2000 and 76.9 percent in 1990.

Millennials, loosely defined as people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, who drive to work are one of the groups that the Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the finances of CTA, Metra and the suburban Pace bus system, is targeting with a new $5 million ad campaign that uses humor to encourage transit riding.

Yet despite the cost of maintaining a car, high parking rates, notoriously bad Chicago traffic and expansion in transit services, some Chicago Millennials told RedEye they won’t give up their wheels because public transportation is not convenient for them and they don’t want to rely on someone else to get them from point A to point B.

Many studies show that while driving is a top choice for Millennials to get around, it is becoming less trendy each year.


The primary motivation for the habits of Millennials is currently ‘making a statement‘. The really odd thing is that while you might think they are largely ‘tree huggers‘ they are evidently not. As they begin raising families and perhaps depending less on beer and other means of avoiding the pressures of life there is a great likelihood that their behavior will more closely match that of previous generations.

Mass Transit is going to have to increase in cost. There are pressures to reduce the use of automobiles by in fact increasing the gasoline tax rate. But doing that will only mean that drivers will choose more wisely the kinds and numbers of trips they have to make.

At the same time the fleet gas mileage is improving all the time. Cars are getting safer to driver and that makes the rap on their safety less of a factor in discouraging their use. The bottom line is that the cost of riding the mass transit system will increase. There will also be pressures on bicycle users to adapt to and support the BikeShare systems across the country. There simply are not enough companies whose mission statement aligns with bicycling to make it possible to continue finding ‘suckers‘ to absorb the cost of a system that even the ‘old timers‘ in the bicycle commuting tradition won’t even use.

Merely raising the cost of gasoline is not going to bridge the gap in funding that everyone hopes it will. And the GOP is not going to yield to all sorts of non-essential spending on ‘bike lanes‘ when frankly the investment in mass transit is of far greater universal value. Bridges and highways are in sore need of repair. Their welfare is further up the ladder (by far) than painting yet another mile or two of city pavement with pretty green paint that will wear off in a single winter season. And goodness knows that PVC bollards should be anathema to ‘greens‘. But they hold their nose and accept them because well, they think that is the only way to get lanes installed. Silly notion.