There are two stories here. One is told by Lloyd Alter in Tree Hugger that young people are just not into cars, and carmakers haven’t figured out how to get that group interested. Even an analyst for the J.D. Power research firm detailed the problem:
“Gen Z buyers’ participation in the new-car space is declining year after year. We expect to see them get their first job and buy a car. But we’re not seeing this.”
In the United States in 1983 46 percent of 16 year olds had drivers licences; in 2016 that figure was 26 percent. As Lloyd Alter observes “young people just might care more about the air they and their kids are breathing than they do about the conveniences in cars.” He also points out that this socially responsible tech-savvy cohort chooses to live in places where they don’t have to drive.
The other story and it is Big News is that anyone 18 years or younger living in the City of Victoria will get a free transit bus pass, no matter what school they are going to. The 6,000 passes will cost $850,000, and will be covered by the City’s Sunday downtown parking fees. This is a great way for students to use the transit system and become accustomed to public transit, of course also meaning that there will be less vehicles on the road.
That was echoed by Susan Brice, chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission: “Anytime we can get more kids riding the bus and making bus riding a part of their life and a habit, that’s good for all of us.”
There is already an active lobby to extend the free bus service to all students in the Capital Regional District, and the Transit Commission is crunching numbers to see how that could be accommodated. This of course leads to a discussion of accessibility to the free service and equity which is already being thought about by Victoria’s mayor, Lisa Helps~she is actively considering a referendum for universally free transit for the 2022 municipal ballot.