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Millennials Unhappily Stuck in their Parents’ Transportation System

Photo: Minesweeper/Wikimedia Commons

Baby Boomers love cars. Their kids? Not so much.

That's the upshot of a new survey by the research firm Arity, which reveals a stark generational divide about cars and driving — and how few alternatives Americans of any age have for getting around.

The main common ground? Everyone — Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials — drives. And they drive a lot. The average person in the study, by an arm of Allstate Insurance, spent about seven hours a week in his or her car, logging about 107 miles. Americans spend about three times as much time driving every years as they do on vacation.

But here's where the young-uns differ: More than two-thirds of Baby Boomers said their car was worth more than the cost of maintenance, but only 49 percent of Millennials felt the same way.

A majority — 59 percent — of Millennials said they would "rather spend time doing more productive tasks than driving" (just 45 percent of Boomers agreed). And 48 percent of Millennials said they "enjoy most of the time spent driving" compared to 61 percent of Boomers and 51 percent of Gen Xers. About a third of Millennials said the amount of time they spend in their car is "very frustrating."

Graphic: Arity
Graphic: Arity
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So Millennials don't share their parents "love affair" with driving, but they are mostly without alternatives. Only 13 percent of respondents said that they could "live without having access to a vehicle" According to the survey, 40 percent of everyone from all generations had never tried an alternative to driving, like public transit, biking or ride-hailing apps.

The study demonstrates that there is a great untapped demand for alternatives to driving including transit expansion and bike infrastructure. If Democratic Congressional leaders take up an infrastructure bill in the next few months, this should be a big focus — if they want to lock in the younger generation, that is.

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