Weakening Obstacles to Transit Use: Changes in Relationships with Child Rearing and Automobile Access from 2000 to 2010

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, ridership - behaviour, ridership - mode choice, ridership - young people, ridership - perceptions, land use - planning


travel behavior, transit use, young children, automobile access


Early indications of a significant generational change in travel behavior have raised hopes of robust growth in transit use in the immediate future, especially as the millennial generation comes of age. The eventual transition to family life and child rearing, however, has led to significant declines in the transit use rates of older-age cohorts. For high transit-use rates of millennials to be durable, the relationship between the presence of children and travel behavior must change. Despite lower rates of automobile ownership by millennials than by previous cohorts, automobile ownership is still widespread: increased attraction of choice riders is important for growth in transit use as well. This study looks for changes in the basic relationship between the presence of young children or automobile access and the probability of transit use from 2000 to 2010 on the basis of data from the decennial Travel Behavior Inventory by the Metropolitan Council of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Pooled logistic regression models at both the trip and person level find that automobile access was a weaker negative predictor of transit use in 2010 and that the presence of young children in participants’ households negatively predicted transit use in 2000 but not in 2010. Chow tests establish that these observed changes represent significant changes in the mode choice relationships in question. The results call for research on similar potential changes in other regions and underscore the importance of family-oriented housing and community features in transit-served areas.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.