A Taste for Transit? Analyzing Public Transit Use Trends among Youth

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, ridership - behaviour, ridership - young people, planning - surveys


National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), age, transit use


In the past decade, there has been much talk about a decline in driving among youth. This study examined whether this decline is associated with an increased reliance on public transit. To address this issue, 2001 and 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data were used to analyze the relationship between age and transit use. Findings indicate that although young adults are more likely to ride transit than older adults, transit use among youth can be explained largely by (1) life cycle factors common among young people but unlikely to persist as they age, (2) higher levels of transit use among non-whites, who are disproportionately young, and (3) locational factors such as living in densely-developed neighborhoods that may or may not continue as young people age. Therefore, whereas transit habits established early in life may persist as young adults age, the data examined here suggest that such an outcome is far from assured.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by the Journal of Public Transportation, copyright remains with them.