Mobility Mindset of Millennials in Small Urban and Rural Areas

University Montana State University
Principal Investigator Natalie Villwock-Witte
PI Contact Information Western Transportation Institute
Montana State University
2327 University Way, Suite 6
Bozeman, MT 59715
Funding Source(s) (Amounts provided by each agency or organization) MSU, UTC: $127,000
MSU, Civil Engineering: $1,000
Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT): $20,000
Montana Department of Transportation (MDT): $10,000
Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT): $10,000
Washington Department of Transportation (WashDOT): $10,000
Total Project Cost $178,000
Agency ID or Contract Number DTRT13-F-UTC46
Start and End Dates 01/01/2015 – 09/30/2016
Brief Description of Research Project The Millennial Generation, Americans born between the years of 1983 and 2000, are now the largest generation in the United States. This generation has significantly different lifestyle and transportation trends than previous generations which is leading to the need for change in transportation policy and planning.

Several recent studies have been conducted in urban areas to identify the lifestyle and transportation trends of Millennials and how these trends affect transportation. These studies show that they 1) more significantly than any previous generation, are driving less, 2) are most likely to live in urban and walkable neighborhoods, and 3) are more open to non-driving forms of transportation. While the recession may play a part in the new travel behavior of this generation, other factors like the reduced prevalence of licensed drivers of this generation; interest and adoption of other modes of transportation; and a high dependence on mobile, internet-connected technologies also have an influence. It was also found that this generation had a “relative propensity for urban lifestyle components (whether they live in cities or in suburbs). Many of these findings support the six livability principles.

While there is now better understanding of Millennial transportation needs and preferences in urban areas, no studies have been done in rural and small urban areas, therefore leaving a gap in understanding if the same preferences and viewpoints exist for Millennials living in these communities.

The objective of this proposed research project is to understand whether Millennials in small urban and rural communities have the same mobility and livability mindset as those in large cities.

Describe Implementation of Research Outcomes (or why not implemented)


a. Presentation at the 2016 TRB Annual Meeting, Millennials and Our Connected Multimodal Future, Part 1: Travel Behavior
b. Presentation at the 2017 TRB Annual Meeting, Beyond Vehicle Kilometers Travelled: A Multidisciplinary Perspective on Millennials
c. Webinar to Project Stakeholders (September of 2016).
d. Requested Presentation at MnDOT Webinar (December of 2016)
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation (actual, not anticipated) This research will allow transportation planners and decision makers to understand if Millennials in small urban and rural areas desire the same transportation modes as those in urban areas.
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