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27 This chapter summarizes several sociodemographic changes that have, directly or indirectly, influenced the nature of the transit market over the past two decades. This chapter is structured in four parts: 1. Chapter highlights, 2. Key characteristics of transit users, 3. Key characteristics of transit trips, and 4. Trends in overall American travel patterns influencing the market for public transportation services, including vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Highlights of Demographic Trends of Transit Riders Characteristics of Transit Users â¢ The average transit rider has changed in the past few decades. Following trends in the U.S. population, transit riders are now more diverseâsplit nearly equally nationwide between white, African-American, and Hispanic, with recent growth in Asian and âotherâ identifiers. â¢ In terms of age, the data show that younger people have always taken more per capita tran- sit trips than older people, but overall transit use has grown faster than the population of both 18- to 34-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds; that is, transit is growing faster than popu- lation would indicate. â¢ Legacy transit markets include single people, especially single parents, people with no access to a vehicle, and those who do not have a license to drive. Characteristics of Transit Trips â¢ Approximately one-half of transit trips are work commutes or work relatedâa propor- tion that has remained stable for many decades. Only recently has the proportion shifted slightly toward more nonwork travel, led by travel for shopping and for social or recreational purposes. â¢ Evidence exists that more people are occasional users of transit, and transit agencies will pos- sibly see continued growth in occasional riders. Characteristics of Overall American Travel Patterns and VMT â¢ After a multidecade increase in the rate of VMT per capita, this pattern of continuous travel increase peaked in the first decade of this century. This important indicator declined from 2006 to 2013 and has shown a rebound since then. C H A P T E R 2 Demographic Characteristics Affecting the Market for Transit
28 Understanding Changes in Demographics, Preferences, and Markets for Public Transportation â¢ This pattern of decreased auto use occurred most strongly in urban areas, among those under 35, and among men. â¢ From 16 to 30 years of age, there is a steady increase in VMT per capita; from the ages of 30 to 50, it remains flat; after age 50, VMT per capita decreases dramatically. Trends in Characteristics of Transit Users Younger and Older Transit Users The discussion of the growing diversity of the U.S. population and transit riders must include the interrelationship between age and key demographic variables. As shown in Figure 10 the most recent NHTS data show higher per capita rates for transit use by all age groups except for the group aged 16 to 24; Figure 10 includes data from four NHTS surveys: 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2009. (These trends were explored earlier in Figure 3, which presented data only from 1990 and 2009.) What Is Different About the Young Today? The list of the ways young people today differ from those of earlier generations is extensive: the number of younger men who hold driverâs licenses is at the lowest levels since 1970, andâfor the first timeâmen between the ages of 25 and 29 are less likely than women of the same age to hold a driverâs license (Office of Highway Policy Information 2017). More young people attend college (as a percentage of all high school graduates), and many return home after getting a degree. The highest percentage of people between the ages of 18 and 24 are living at home since 1960 (U.S. Census Bureau 2017). Since the recession, the unemployment rate for younger people remains stubbornly high (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016, 2017). Other significant changes that affect travel choices have also been observed. For instance, the age of women when they have their first child is the oldest it has ever been (National Center for Health Statistics n.d.), as is the age of their first marriage (Arroyo et al. 2012). For the first time in history, for at least half of the younger generation, those life-changing events are in reverse orderâfirst comes children, then comes marriage. And the Older Groups? While much of the public focus has been on younger people, at the other end of the spectrum are people in older age groups. The baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) started Source: NHTS. 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 16â24 25â34 35â44 45â54 55 A nn ua l T rip s Age Group 1990 Transit 1995 Transit 2001 Transit 2009 Transit Figure 10. Trends in annual per capita transit trips, by age group, 1990â2009.
Demographic Characteristics Affecting the Market for Transit 29 turning 65 in 2011, and 1 million baby boomers will pass that milestone every year for the next 20 years. The population of older people in 2030 is projected to be twice as large as its counter- part in 2000, growing from 35 million to 72 million and representing nearly 20% of the total U.S. population (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics n.d.). Employment among people age 65 and older is at a record high. Nearly 27% of people between the ages of 65 and 74 are in the workforce, and baby boomers are swelling those numbers (Toosi 2005). The number of people living well past retirement age has been dubbed the âlongevity revolution,â and the mobility of older people has never been greater (Butler 2008). In fact, in 2009, the baby boomers had a high per capita vehicle useâmuch higher than that of previous generations of older Americans. Although research shows that while most people age in place, baby boomers are also interested in mobility options as they age. Baby boomers who have moved in the past 5 years are more likely than any other age group to cite being close to public transportation as one of the reasons they chose their current home location (McGuckin and Lynott 2012). Trends by Life Cycle Over the past few decades, single peopleâand especially single parentsâhave used transit at higher rates than couples without children (including retirees) and couples with children at home. Figure 11 shows that single parents have the highest transit use per capita. This may illu- minate some of the current transit use by younger people, who remain single longer than previ- ous generations and delay marriage and child bearing. Traveling alone is the optimal situation for transit; traveling with children on transit can be a challenge, and trends show that people in nuclear family householdsâtwo parents and childrenâtake the fewest transit trips per capita (Figure 11). Race and Ethnicity The population of the United States and its metropolitan areas diversified over the past few decades in tandem with the population of transit riders. The baby boomers, born after World War II when immigration was strictly limited, are one of the least diverse generations of the twentieth century. Since then, diversity has increased steadilyâespecially in the urban areas. Figure 12 shows the shifts in the proportion of transit riders by race and ethnicity between 1977 Source: NHTS. - 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 1977 1990 1995 P er C ap ita T ra ns it T rip s 2001 2009 Couples Dual Parent Single Single Parent Figure 11. Trends in per capita transit use by stage in the life cycle.
30 Understanding Changes in Demographics, Preferences, and Markets for Public Transportation and 2009. The decline in the percentage of white transit riders is most pronounced in the 1980s and the growth in Hispanic riders is most pronounced in recent years. Another way to look at the shifts in transit ridership by race and ethnicity is to track the added number of riders in each category. Figure 13 shows the percentage change in the number of riders by race and ethnicity between 1990 and 2009. The percentage of transit users who are Hispanic doubled while the percentage of transit users who are white declined by 80%. Migrant and Immigrant Patterns The increase in the diversity of the U.S. population has been fueled by increasing proportions of Hispanics and Asians, both native born and immigrants. Immigrants, especially new immi- grants, travel in significantly different ways than U.S.-born residents. As shown in Figure 14, newer immigrants, for example, are more likely to live in a household without a vehicle than are native-born individuals. However, after 10 years or so of living in the United States, the rates of auto ownership become more comparable. The 20-year time frame used in Figure 14 illustrates a major concept in the study of either racial/ethnic variation, or variation stemming from the years of acculturation of those who were 0 20 40 60 80 Source: NHTS. 1977 1990 M ar ke t C om po si tio n (% ) 1995 2001 2009 White African-American Hispanic Other Figure 12. Trends in market composition by race and ethnicity of transit riders (1977â2009). Source: 2009 NHTS. â100 â80 â60 â40 â20 0 20 40 60 80 100 White African-American Hispanic C ha ng e in T ra ns it R id er s (% ) Other Figure 13. Percentage change in transit riders by race and ethnicity, 1990â2009.
Demographic Characteristics Affecting the Market for Transit 31 not born here. The two lines are similar in showing how the pattern of acculturation (in this case, the adoption of a car into the household) has various phases until it approximates the U.S.- born group. This use of auto ownership as a surrogate for transit dependence suggests that those on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are transit dependent until a time when they are financially able to make a mode choiceâa real choice involving inherent personal values, household size, age, employment, and so forth. Categories such as race and ethnicity represent a moveable target that shifts as economic conditions of ethnicities change in the United States and as new geopolitical crises sprout across the globe. Just as the present focus on important subgroups (Hispanics, for example) is fitting, so is the notion that long-term decisions may need repatterning based on new ethnicities that meet these common socioeconomic or immigration status circumstances. Transit for the Work Trip Overall, commute travel is an important market for transit. Commute travel is confined in time and space, and the morning and evening demand peaks determine peak transit service. Work travel has been a declining part of all person travel, by all modes, in the past few decades as travel for other purposesâshopping, errands, and recreational tripsâhas grown faster than travel for work. However, the percentage of transit use for journey-to-work travel nationwide has remained a rather steady âhalfâ over the past few decades (Figure 15). Because transit serves the commuter market, there are strong ridership peaks during the 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. periods, when nearly one-half of transit riders travel. NHTS data for 2009 show just a small shift to a greater percentage of transit use for other purposes that are explored in the next section. Trends in Characteristics of Transit Trips One of the factors complicating the commute trip is the role of trip-chaining (i.e., incorpo- rating nonwork stops into a work-trip tour). In 2009, about 15% of men and 20% of women stopped during their commutesâeither on the way to or from work or (less often) in both directions. Women are more likely than men to trip chain since the stops are often related to household duties and dropping off or picking up children. The percentage of workers stopping 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 Source: 2009 NHTS. 5 years 6â10 years 11â20 years 20 years U.S.-born Hispanic All P eo pl e in Z er o- V eh ic le H ou se ho ld s (% ) Figure 14. Change in role of zero-vehicle household over time with migration.
32 Understanding Changes in Demographics, Preferences, and Markets for Public Transportation during their commutes has remained stable since the 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey; while the proportion of workers who stop is significant, it does not appear to be growing. Transit Use for Nonwork Purposes Overall, the trends in the percentage of transit use for nonwork purposes indicate that school and church trips constituted a larger share of non-work-related transit use in the 1977 NHTS data as compared with later years (note that âschool busâ is separate from âlocal busâ in all survey years and is not included in this transit analysis). On the other hand, and like overall travel, shopping and social/recreational travel have increased in share (Figure 16). The change in using transit for non-work-related travel mirrors the overall growth in non-work-related trips over the past few decadesâleading with shopping. The most recent NHTS data show per capita declines in travel (by all modes) for shopping and family/personal errands, although medical travel has grown. 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Source: U.S. Census, American Community Survey. 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 W or ke rs U si ng T ra ns it fo r Jo ur ne y to W or k (% ) 2010 2008â2013 Figure 15. Trends in using transit for journey to work, 1960â2013. Source: NHTS. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 1977 1990 N on -W or k- R el at ed T ra ns it T rip s (% ) 2001 2009 Social/recreational (including visit) School/church Family/personal errands (including medical) Shopping Figure 16. Trends in the shift of percentage of non-work-related transit trips, 1977 to 2009.
Demographic Characteristics Affecting the Market for Transit 33 Trends in Overall American Travel Patterns and VMT Across Two Decades This section summarizes the changes in vehicle travel over the past 20 years. Particular atten- tion is paid to travel patterns in urbanized areas (i.e., places where fixed-route and scheduled public transportation services have been primarily located). This section attempts to put these patterns into a 20-year perspective. Figure 17 shows that total VMT divided by total U.S. popu- lation (VMT per capita) grew between 1995 and 2004. VMT per capita peaked between 2004 and 2007 and began to decline with the recession of 2008 and 2009. Interestingly, this VMT measure continued to fall until about 2013, and a clear rebound is now occurring. To analyze what is happening with VMT, the research team looked at more detailed survey data for 1995, 2001, and 2009 to better understand the roles of variables such as place, age, and gender; updated survey data is being collected in 2016 as part of the NHTS. Travel mode preferences change as people age. Figure 18 shows the relationship between age (in detailed 5-year segments) and annual VMT (in this case for 2009). The years generally V M T p er C ap ita 20 00 19 99 19 98 19 97 19 96 19 95 20 01 20 02 20 03 20 04 20 05 20 06 20 07 20 08 20 09 20 10 20 11 20 12 20 13 20 14 20 15 20 16 20 17 8,600 8,800 9,000 9,200 9,400 9,600 9,800 10,000 10,200 10,400 Source: VMT: Federal Highway Administration n.d.; population: U.S. Census Bureau n.d. Figure 17. Variation in total VMT per capita over a 22-year time frame (1995â2017). Source: NHTS. A nn ua l V M T p er D riv er 4,000 16â20 21â25 26â30 31â35 51â55 56â60 61â6536â40 41â45 Age 46â50 66â70 6,000 8,000 10,000 12,000 14,000 16,000 18,000 Earlier 2009 Figure 18. Change in VMT per driver by age group, 2009 versus previous decade.
34 Understanding Changes in Demographics, Preferences, and Markets for Public Transportation between 30 and 50 are marked by a steady, uniform pattern of auto use and auto dependency. By contrast, the years between 16 and 30 are marked by nonauto use (including transit, walking, and biking) that decreases with age. Then, after age 50, auto dependence decreases, potentially allowing for a greater role for walking, transit, and biking. Figure 18 shows individual VMT in 2009 with 11 age groups of 5 years each; these groups are compared with the average VMT for 2001 and 1995.