Transit to eternal youth: lifecycle and generational trends in Greater Montreal public transport mode share

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - young people, place - north america, ridership - mode choice, mode - mass transit


Public transport, Mode share, Generation Cohort, Lifecycle, Montreal


Young people appear to be using public transit more than their predecessors, reversing twentieth century trends, but the importance of such findings depends on whether high transit use persists as these riders age. This paper examines whether transit mode share for commuting trips is increasing; socio-economic and geographic trends are also explored to attempt to determine whether these trends are likely to continue. The study uses repeated cross-sectional origin–destination surveys of Greater Montreal (1998, 2003 and 2008). Over 45,000 home-to-work and home-to-school trips are studied for each survey year. A general lifecycle pattern of decreasing transit share with age is apparent within cohorts until individuals reach their early 30s, followed by decades of stability. This pattern appears to hold in recent years, but with higher youth use rates, and it is argued that the higher use will continue as current younger cohorts mature. Suburbanization by those in their early 30s is evident and, along with household composition changes, appears to explain much of the final within-cohort mode share declines before equilibrium. Transit providers might see lasting ridership gains, as those currently in their early 30s and younger replace lower-use cohorts in the workforce, provided service provision keeps pace. Addressing the needs of young people, whose mode choices are comparatively unsettled, should be a priority for transit agencies to ensure higher transit usage in the future.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SpringerLink, copyright remains with them.