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As Millennials lead a national shift away from driving, higher education institutions like Arizona State University and the University of Arizona are giving students new options for getting around and becoming innovators in transportation policy, according to A New Course: How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy, a new report from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.
“Across the country and here in Arizona, colleges and universities are showing that efforts to meet increased demand for transportation options deliver powerful benefits for their community and surrounding areas,” said Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. “These efforts are saving money for universities, and improving the quality of life on campus.”
Americans aged 16 to 34 years of age reduced their annual driving miles by 23 percent per person between 2001 and 2009, according to research based on the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration that is included in the study.
As Baby Boomers grow older, Millennials have become America’s largest generation. Since government investments in transportation infrastructure often last decades, the question of whether current investment will match the needs of future travelers depends largely on how well Millennials’ preferences will be met.
“Universities and colleges are at the forefront of encouraging news ways to get around that don’t depend on personal cars. Linking two Arizona State University campuses is a key component of the Phoenix-area light rail line, and the University of Arizona recently was recognized for its bicycle-friendly campus by the League of American Cyclists,” said Unrein. “Public officials who want to stay ahead of the transportation curve should be taking notes from universities and colleges.”
The report describes how universities are improving their communities by providing a wider range of transportation choices. This includes buses, biking, various types of vehicle-sharing, and convenient apps that make it easier to navigate the options. The report also documents how campuses seek to avoid the steep costs of building additional parking facilities.
“Universities have a lot in common with cities,” added Unrein. “They must get the most value out of limited land, they are acutely aware of problems associated with being overrun by cars; and they need to focus on the tastes and aspirations of young people. It’s no wonder that universities are leaders in finding successful ways to make it easier for people to drive less.”
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