Mobility Mindset of Millennials in Small Urban and Rural Areas

Status:  Complete
Report Date:  12/16/2016


At almost 80 million people, the Millennial generation will have a growing impact on many aspects of society, including transportation needs. Research (conducted largely in urban areas) suggests that this generation has different lifestyle trends than previous generations, which has created a need to re-evaluate transportation policy and planning. The objective of this project is to understand whether Millennials in small urban and rural communities have the same mobility mindset as those in large cities. Data was collected from survey respondents living in both urban and rural areas from multiple generations in Minnesota, Montana, Washington and Wisconsin. The results indicate that there were clear differences between urban and rural Millennials with respect to educational attainment, student loans, income, use of technology and their expectation for moving. These differences imply that alternative options for transportation may not be as viable in rural areas as compared with urban areas. However, the fact that rural Millennial survey respondents reported households with zero vehicles across all area types and that rural Generation X survey respondents had a higher percentage reporting that they preferred a bicycle to travel to school than their urban counterparts suggests that there are opportunities to provide alternatives that people will make use of in rural environments. Furthermore, with a higher number of households in rural areas reporting an annual income of less than $20,000, which likely limits their transportation options, there is clearly a need to consider how to allow these households to access healthcare, education and employment.

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