Millennials in cities: Comparing travel behaviour trends across six case study regions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

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


Millennials, Young adults, Travel behaviour, Public transport, Transit, Vehicle miles travelled


A recent explosion of research on the travel behaviour of the millennial generation has found that compared to past generations they are taking longer to get a driving license, driving less, owning fewer cars and using transit more. Yet these findings are not universal with some countries seeing increases in driver licensing, little change in driving or reductions in public transport use. Most past research has explored wider social and economic explanations for these trends, such as income constraints and delays in adult life transitions. Very few studies have examined the role that local context plays in explaining the change (or the lack of change) in millennial travel behaviour. This paper aims to compare how trends in young adult travel behaviour differ across diverse city contexts. It uses a comparative descriptive analysis of household travel surveys from cities in three countries (UK, USA and Australia), focussing on auto-miles and transit-miles travelled. We find that each city experienced markedly different trends in young adult travel behaviour that are unlikely to be explained by economic differences alone. We suggest that changes to the transport systems in these cities are likely to be playing an under-recognised role in shaping travel behaviour. We suggest that further research should pay greater attention to the role of the transport system in supporting changes to travel behaviour among the next generation of young adults.


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