Friday, April 20, 2012

Transportation Planning & the New Generation--BWL comments at MPO Board Meeting

At the April 20th Joint Lee & Charlotte MPO Board meeting, BikeWalkLee's representative, Darla Letourneau, brought to the Board's attention another national report, consistent with Dan Rudge's Generational Dynamics presentation, about the need to adapt transportation planning to facts about the new generation.   

The study is called "Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young Peopleare driving less and what it means for transportation policy", prepared by the U.S. PRIG Education Fund and the Frontier Group.  This report's findings were covered by the national media but didn't make it in local press.

Here are the vital facts:
·         From 2001 to 2009, the average annual number of VMT for young people (16 to 34 yrs.) decreased by 23 percent!
·         the share of this age group without a driver's license increased by 5 percentage points.
·         they walked to their designations 6% more often
·         their transit miles jumped by 40%
·         they took 24% more bike trips during this period
·         Why?  As we know from generational research, young people's transportation priorities & preferences differ from those of older generations.
o                   they would prefer to replace driving w/alternative transportation
o                   they prefer to live in areas that are walkable vs. sprawl
o                   they would prefer to text & use social media than to meet friends via car.

As the study points out, this data has major implications for transportation planning for the future. Federal and local governments have historically made massive investments in new highway capacity on the assumption that driving will continue to increase at a rapid and steady pace.  Letourneau stated that these are the assumptions in the "black box models" used in the Lee MPO LRTP planning.  These assumptions are no longer valid and must be updated for the new reality.  Letourneau urged FDOT  to revise the transportation models to reflect the new generational trends data, so that MPOs throughout the state have accurate models for developing their LRTPs.

Letourneau again suggested that the MPO staff arrange for Dan Rudge to make his eye-opening Generational Dynamics presentation to the Board and its committees.


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