Millennials affect driving debate

Burgeoning debt and better infrastructure have contributed to a shift in the way Minnesotans view transportation.

The millennial generation is changing the way Minnesotans view transportation, which will have profound effects on the future of public policy, the Star Tribune reported Sunday.  A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 18-year-olds with driver’s licenses in the state dropped by nearly 1,000 people from 2011 to 2013.

Commonly cited reasons for this gradual shift in preference include better infrastructure for commuting by bike to work, increased housing near workplaces, the light rail system and the success of car-sharing programs.

Moreover, young adults who have high levels of student debt seem to prefer living in the city closer to work and using public transportation in lieu of paying for vehicle expenses. Owning a car is increasingly becoming an antiquated symbol of freedom.

As the Star Tribune noted, this shift will influence public policy. As funding for transportation begins to be debated in 2015, the question of whether to continue expanding and fixing roads for cars or focusing on alternative transportation infrastructure will be of the utmost importance.

We believe that for those who live in the city area with alternative options, the decline of the car is not a bad trend. Driving has contributed to deaths, debt and climate issues, and we believe that millennials adapting to and continuing lives without the need for a car is a step in the right direction. We hope that budget discussions next year will reflect this sentiment appropriately.