Transportation: the Very Definition is Changing!
Heidi Selberg, Envision Board member Upward Mobility Signals Team
Access to transportation has been identified by the Urban Institute and others as a critical factor in boosting upward mobility. But what happens when the definition of access to transportation changes? How do cities and rural areas respond? What infrastructure is necessary, and what becomes obsolete? And what are the implications for the environment?
These questions and others are addressed in a recent report in the Washington Post. In ‘I’ll call an Uber or 911’: Why Gen Z Doesn’t Want to Drive, reporter Shannon Osaka notes declining rates of car ownership among Gen Z (born 1996-2012) and fewer getting their driver’s licenses in their teens – if at all. Reasons include the costs of car ownership, anxiety about driving and possible accidents, and environmental concerns. The availability of transportation alternatives makes it easier not to have a driver’s license or one’s own vehicle – and public transportation is not necessarily the primary alternative. E-scooters, e-bikes, ride-sharing, and on-line alternatives all provide options to driving a traditional vehicle to be with others.
Will it last? Will the trend materialize in less urban areas? And does this change the model for public transportation? Perhaps it already has, as municipalities develop agreements with scooter and bike companies to offer short term use of such vehicles. Another trend to watch!