Last week, we published an interactive tool for exploring how commuting has changed by different age groups over the last decade or so. One of the big takeaways was that even among younger people, there’s been only miniscule shifts away from driving, or towards transit and biking, despite the huge surge of youth to more urban locations.
As we wrote, a big issue is that transportation choices depend on transportation options—and in most neighborhoods in America, those options lean heavily towards cars. Distances are too far, and roads are too dangerous, for biking or walking; and transit services are often unreliable or are themselves located beyond walking distances from the jobs or homes people are trying to get to.
But by separating this data out by metropolitan area, we can see some more movement, especially in places that do have a stock of pre-zoning “illegal neighborhoods” and solid public transit, where the growing number of downtown jobs and growing population, especially of young people, has increased the number of people who want—and, importantly, can—use non-car means of transportation to commute.
So while nationally, the proportion of young people driving has dropped by only one or two percentage points, in the San Francisco metro area, the share of 16-to-24-year-olds who drove to work fell from 71.0 percent in 2006 to 64.8 percent in 2014.
And while driving declines were fairly consistent across age groups in San Francisco, in many places, the urban generation gap is very apparent. In the Chicago region, the share of young people driving to work decreased from 78.1 percent to 74.3 percent, even as it held steady among people 45 to 54.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul region also saw very different trendlines by age, with younger people reducing driving, even as older workers saw little to no change:
On the other hand, some metro areas aren’t looking so good in any age group. For example, here’s Houston:
You can play around with the numbers below, looking at mode shifts by age in the 25 largest metropolitan areas. As before, we have allowed the scales to change depending on the inputs you select to make it as easy as possible to see trends—note, though, that the scales can change dramatically from one metropolitan area to another.