News Releases

January 29, 2015

Vermont Lacks Transportation Services to Attract Young Adults

The Vermont Transportation Board today released its Annual Report, which documents the comments the Board collected during a recent series of public forums that focused on the Transportation needs and wants of young adults.

After hearing from some 250 Vermonters during a series of eight public forums that were held during the fall of 2014, the report documents that young adults are not only dissatisfied with Vermont's transportation services, but believe that the state's limited public transportation options combined with its limited number of bicycle-and-pedestrian facilities is causing many of their peers to either move away from the Green Mountains or not consider Vermont when choosing a place to live, work and raise a family.

"Vermont's population of young adults has been on the decline for decades now," said Transportation Board Chairman Nick Marro. "The reasons for this trend are multifaceted, but somewhere within this decline lies a transportation nexus. Understanding how young people view the current state of Vermont's transportation system, and understanding how those views differ from previous generations, is one of the keys to being able to properly plan for the state's future."

Vermont for years now has seen a steady decline of young adults. The number of Vermonters between the ages of 20-39 shrunk 20 percent -- a fall from 187,576 to 149,831 -- over the 20-year period between 1990 and 2010, according to U.S. Census data. Adding significance to this trend is that Vermont's overall population grew by 11 percent -- from 562,758 to 625,741 -- over this same time period.

A groundbreaking national study published in late 2012 showed that today's young adults drive motor vehicles significantly less than did young adults of similar ages just one generation ago. The study documented that from 2001 to 2009, the annual vehicle miles traveled by a 16-34 year-old decreased 23 percent from 10,3000 to 7,900. Over this same time period, these same young people took 24 percent more bicycle trips, walked to destinations 16 percent more often, and traveled 40 percent more miles by public transportation.

"Vermont does not always follow national trends, so the Transportation Board wanted to talk with young Vermonters to learn whether their transportation behavior was in synch with their national counterparts," Marro said. "What young Vermonters told us is that they would like to live a lifestyle that is not dependent on an automobile, but that Vermont's lack of car-free alternatives not only makes that impossible, but also deters many of their peers from considering Vermont as a place live and work."

The Board's report details the reasons young people find Vermont transportationally unattractive. These reasons include a lack of public transportation that both runs at convenient times and stops at the destinations they need to reach, a lack of safe and well-lit bicycle facilities such as dedicated bike lanes in downtown areas or bike paths that reach other destinations, and a lack of well-maintained and well-lit pedestrian facilities like sidewalks that connect their homes to nearby restaurants and shops.

"Young people told us they want transportation options," Marro said. "Owning a car is very expensive. Many unmarried young people want to divest themselves of the automobile, while many young families want to be able to own just one car instead of two. But to do this, they need convenient -- and the key is convenient -- ways to reach stores, restaurants, schools and places of entertainment without driving."

Each fall, the Transportation Board conducts a series of public hearings to take comment about important transportation issues. Working with the Vermont Agency of Transportation as well as the state's 11 Regional Planning Commissions, the Board each year identifies transportation topics on which the Agency as well as the Legislature would like additional information.

During the fall of 2014, the Board conducted eight public forums held a various college campuses around the state. Aside from working with both professors and deans to attract college students, the Board also worked with various local business and civic organizations to attract young, working professionals to each form.

The report, which can be downloaded from the Board's website at www.tboard.vermont.gov, includes chapters on various transportation topics. These topics include:

* Transportation options that influence the decisions of young people.

* Young adults and their relationships with cars.

* Vermont's walking and biking infrastructure.

* Public transportation.

* Advances in transportation technology.

* Highway safety, including young-people's thoughts about legalizing marijuana and driving.

The Board's forums were conducted according to Title 19 V.S.A. 5(d)(8), which charges the Transportation Board to work together with the Agency of Transportation to hold public hearings "for the purpose of obtaining public comment on the development of state transportation policy, the mission of the Agency, and state transportation planning, capital programming and program implementation."

For more information about the report, contact the Board's Executive Secretary John Zicconi at john.zicconi@state.vt.us or by calling 802-828-2942.

Source: Transportation Board
Last Updated at: January 29, 2015 13:05:51