Washington, D.C. – Children and young adults in the metropolitan Washington region are making fewer daily trips than they did two decades ago, according to survey data released data by the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board (TPB).
Comparing the results of the 2007/2008 survey to the previous survey in 1994, the data show the largest trip rate decrease occurred among 16 to 24 year olds (nine percent), while all age brackets under 35 experienced declines in trip frequency ranging from five to nine percent.
Robert Griffiths of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Planning Department attributed the decrease partly to the rise of social networking and other forms of connectivity that allowed people to convene digitally, without the actual need to travel.
Daily trips taken by persons age 65 and above increased substantially (18 percent), whereas trip frequency among 35 to 64 year olds in the region was unchanged. Although people 65 and over are taking more trips, these trips are less likely than those by younger adults to be taken during peak times. Griffiths noted that the findings are important because some of them run counter to previous assumptions of transportation planners.
“It had been assumed that the population 65 and over would be making fewer trips than they are today,” Griffiths said. “This proves that assumption wrong.” If this new trend continues as more “baby boomers” fall into this age bracket, it could have a potentially dramatic effect on long-term transportation planning.
In addition to breaking trip rates down by age group, the survey examines differences in trip frequency by household size, location within the region, and by various transportation modes.
The TPB’s Regional Household Travel Survey is based on a survey of over 10,000 households in the metropolitan Washington region. It examines the demographic, transportation and land use factors that influence changes in daily travel by automobile, transit, walking and biking. The survey also compares daily travel patterns for households living within regional activity centers with households in other geographic areas.
Click to view/download the summary presentation and data sets of the survey.