Access to public transit a big factor in where millennials will live

A supermajority of millennials say that access to high quality transportation is one of the top three criteria they would weight when deciding where to live.’s according to a recent survey from the Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America, which studied millennials and their transportation views in 10 major U.S. cities, including Chicago.

This is good news for the long-term future of our country.

Some other survey results:

  • A large majority of millennials want access to better transit options and the ability to be less reliant on a car
  • More than half (54%) of millennials surveyed say they would consider moving to another city if it had more and better options for getting around
  • Though Millennials value the transportation options they currently have, they support continued and growing access to quality transportation options in the future

Millennials living in cities with mature transportation systems (Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco in the study) count on a mix of transportation to get around and look to transportation access when they are deciding where to live, work, and visit.

  • 95% say that having a convenient and reliable public transportation system is important to them, and 67% say that their city is doing an excellent or good job delivering on that
  • 82% say that access to quality transportation options in one of their top criteria when deciding where to live
  • 70% would consider moving to another neighborhood if it had more and better options for how to get around and 53% would consider moving to another city entirely for more and better options

Millennials in mature transportation systems want to live in places with a wide range of transportation options, including car- and bike-share services. And though they think their cities largely provide them with adequate options, they desire even greater access moving forward.

  • 93% say their ideal transportation system would include a range of options so they can decide for themselves how best to get around
  • 83% say that having a wide range of transportation options, including public transportation and car- and bike-sharing services is important to them
  • Even with these positive ratings, 62% say they would like more public transportation options in their area

Transportation access shapes where millennials in mature transportation systems spend their time, and they believe it offers cities real economic benefits.

  • 88% are more likely to shop, eat out, or go to a bar in areas with access to quality public transportation
  • 76% say that visiting an area without access to public transportation is a major inconvenience
  • 91% say that investing in quality public transportation helps improve the economy and create jobs


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  • Existence of jobs and access to mortgages will probably have a much greater influence on where millennials will live. Absent #1, where parents live will have the determinative influence.

  • These surveys are all predictable.

    If you asked millennials whether they would like to move to a city that had free beer on every corner they would also overwhelmingly say yes. All-you-can-eat for a dollar at Whole Foods? Sure, I'll move. Why would anybody say no? But ask them to pay taxes for this stuff and the answer will be, "Someone else should pay the taxes, just give us the stuff!"

    While they're young and live in apartments, getting around on buses is fine. If the toilet breaks, they call the landlord who has to drive a new toilet up there. When they get older and have to work 11 hour days and take care of children, they are going to look less favorably on trying to lug a week's worth of groceries for a family home on the bus or take their kids to their recitals at three different places on the bus.

    Sure, if a poll taker comes to me and asks if I want to live in a place with cigarette trees, whiskey springs, where the bluebird sings, I'll tell him :"Heck yes!"

  • In reply to Preppy:

    I disagree with you Preppy, particularly on the issue of paying taxes. I know plenty of millennials, and they are all happy to have job, contribute to society, and yes, pay taxes.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I guess Pat Quinn and Rahm Emanuel are going to take solace in that.

    Now, if the survey says "do you want your state income tax to take 5% of your pay to pay pensions for people who aren't older than your parents?" Do you want your rent hiked so your landlord can pay the increased property tax for that purpose?" and "Can you get a job in Illinois if you don't have clout?" the survey is going to say what Preppy said.

    Heck, you have people like Jacky Grimshaw thinking that transit is a free good, and she's on the CT Board. Sure, she wanted to have a bus on Lincoln, but couldn't even attend the hearing and meeting.

  • All these millennial creatures have been brainwashed by LIBRULL propaganda! When they grow older and wiser, they'll start a-hankerin' for a McMansion, a couple 'o sport utes, and 55-gallon drums of Roundup for their expansive lawns.

    I kid, I kid.

  • In reply to Blue:

    Probably not kidding, as to whom Daimler is pitching the CLA and GLA, Accural the ILX, Cadillac the ATS, Lincoln the upcoming MkB, BMW the 2 series, etc.? Sure isn't AARP members.

    If they get married and have kids, they certainly are not going to haul double wide strollers onto the L platforms to get them stuck in the doors. Even Deb and her wife. And Deb has a job.

  • The reason they'll flee to the suburbs when they have kids is not the public transportation, but rather the schools. I was house hunting in Bucktown and Wicker Park, and almost every seller was a young family with children approaching school age. Rather than pay high property taxes *and* private school tuition, they were heading to the burbs where they'd pay higher property taxes, but could enroll their kids in public schools.

    The folks in the survey do not rely entirely on public transportation. They want options. If they need to do a big grocery haul, they'll grab a Zipcar. I live in River North, and own a car, which is used only on weekends to golf in the burbs. Otherwise, I'm using a bus, cab, train, or Divvy bike. I also have an iGo/Enterprise account for times when my vehicle is unavailable.

    Many of these young adults grew up in the burbs, and saw their parents commuting 2+ hours a day. No thanks.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I was thinking about your first sentence. By the same token, why was Rauner pulling strings to get his girl into Payton? Wasn't New Trier good enough?

    But for the rest of them, what are they going to do, since not all can get their kids into Payton?

    I think that your Zipcar, etc. is correct. Also, I don't think that Uber and Lyft rely on senior citizens for patronage.

    The other indication is that I have not seen a subsequent groundswell of support to increase the Cook County sales tax by a half percent so that the activists, Preckwinkle, and Grimshaw can give it to the CTA. Especially after Preckwinkle said that she would have to raise it another half percent to pay for pensions.

  • It was certainly high on my list when I purchased both of my homes.

  • Being 50+ makes me, what, a double Millennial? :-) Many of us are old enough to remember the massive decay of the cities in the 70's. Businesses and families moved to the burbs. Many cities bordered on bankruptcy, or went bankrupt. If you get a chance, check out the documentary "Blondie's New York City" for a great look at the conditions in NYC in the mid-70's.

    Fast forward to today, and the "kids" don't want to live in the burbs and rely on a car to get everywhere. The city centers are booming, and for the first time, many business are leaving the burbs, and heading back to the city to attract young workers.

    Young people just don't have the love affair with the car like we did growing up in the burbs. Heck, a car was an absolute necessity for a suburban teen. They see it as an expense, especially when you have to pay to maintain and park it during the week while you're taking the bus/train to work.

  • I'm roughly your age and grew up in Oak Lawn and didn't need a car to go most places I wanted to go.

  • I would assume by comments here that many of the people posting don't know a lot of millennials. Many millennials hate the cul-de-sac lifestyles that they grew up in and want culture/diversity near by. They also have had more resources to learn about how the rest of the world functions (i.e. internet) and realize that paying a little more in taxes benefits all of society. Maybe they will become a little more conservative as they progress in their careers and make a little bit more money, but todays younger population actually seems to care more about social activities than working 60 hours a week, therefore spending more time exploring and traveling around their environment.

    I'm sure many millennials who chose to have families will move to suburbs that have better schools for their kids, but many of them will still want to commute to work via transit so they don't spend their lives rotting away in traffic like their parents did. With wi-fi being installed on commuter rails across the nation and cell phone coverage being installed in subway tunnels, it makes it more desirable for a generation that is always plugged in to want to travel by transit. It's pretty hard (and dangerous) to stay connected while driving. In addition, more and more people in the US are choosing not to have children and I believe this will continue to be the trend for millennials.

    And lastly, you can already see proof that the younger population desires better transit. Look at the regions with the highest property values, highest household incomes, and highest level of education. They are all around cities with great public transit (i.e. DC, Boston, NYC, Chicago, San Francisco). Is public transit perfect in all of the cities? Of course not. We have neglected the systems since the previous generations left the cities behind. But the young see what the cities were and what they can be, and are willing to take the chance to make them great again.

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