by: Charles Wilson
Much like the way that Baby Boomers created the American suburb, transit-loving Millennials are creating noticeable demand for increased rapid transit service—and therefore transit-oriented developments. It’s apparently a lot easier to scroll through Instagram, check emails, and send snaps when you’re not driving a vehicle.
CityLab wrote an article in 2014 that highlights the shifting dynamics of American mobility—that young Americans increasingly prefer getting around without a car. They cite data that demonstrates the average transit user is a young citizen of an ethnic minority who lives in a relatively dense area that is serviced by high-quality transit. This pairs with another finding that observes people under the age of 30 being far more likely to ride public transportation and express positive feelings about it than people who are older—regardless of their geographic upbringing.
Because so many Americans have grown up in the suburbs, they have experienced the inadequacies, stresses, and sometimes dullness of a car-centric lifestyle. The article states that now 58% of respondents would describe their ideal neighborhood as having a mixture of residential, commercial, and office uses. Richmond has a few of those walkable, diverse enclaves in the Fan, Shockoe Bottom, and Scott's Addition—but only for those able to pay the price to live there.
But! There respondents gave little preference to urban, suburban, or small-town settings. This means that as long as communities are built around transit at a walkable scale, Richmond can better appeal to the next generation. What a regional transit system will better assure is that any millennial, regardless of residence or income, can easily participate in all of the opportunities this city has to offer.