The Impact of Employment Status on the Travel Behaviour of Millennials: Assessing the Potential for Promoting Sustainable Transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

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Urban Planning, Transportation Planning
Millennials are known to drive automobiles less than their preceding generations; this behaviour has been attributed the Great Recession and the disproportionate effect it has had on them. The validity of this theory in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is assessed in this report through an exploration of the association between employment status and three indicators of travel behaviour: mode share, daily auto trips, and daily vehicle kilometres travelled. Data used in this report are from 2001, 2006, and 2011 Transportation Tomorrow Surveys and results were geographically split to assess differences between the City of Toronto and its suburbs. The data confirm an association between employment status and travel behaviour in the GTHA although individuals with full-time employment did not maintain stable automobility patterns during the study period suggesting that unique Millennial travel behaviour cannot be wholly attributed to the negative economic conditions brought on by the Great Recession. Nevertheless, Millennial travel behaviour patterns were determined to have been affected by this event in a manner that was not observed among Generation Xers. Thus, the data suggest that Millennials can be expected to drive more as they age, especially with improved employment fortunes, although perhaps not as much as their elders did at similar lifecycle stages. Planners and policymakers can interpret these results as an opportunity and challenge. While it is unlikely for automobile demand to be eliminated, the usage of this travel mode can be reduced by further promoting ridesharing, ride-hailing, and carsharing as substitutes to car ownership. Employer-based transportation demand management programs should be embraced. Compact and mixed use developments are necessary but should be combined with efforts to reduce the convenience of automobile usage to facilitate reductions in automobile demand. Finally, policymakers should capitalize on increased transit usage among Millennials by improving marketing and education about this alternative travel option.
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