Surprising Statistics About Young Adult & College Transit

Model 1 | June 19, 2014

Universities may not seem like places you’ll find surprising statistics but college campuses across the country are spearheading advances in public transportation. Bus and shuttle services are one part of that; from helping students save on gas prices to helping them travel long distances across several campus locations, university bus services are on the rise. Check out these statistics – some of them may surprise you!

Driving Is Down

Since the permeation of cars and during times of prosperity, driving has been on a steady increase in the United States. For the first time since 1970 driving has been gradually decreasing. According to a report filed by the Frontier Group and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the average American was driving 6% fewer miles per year in 2011 compared to 2004. Most of this trend is spearheaded by young people aged 16 to 34, whose average annual number of vehicle-miles dropped 23% from 10,300 to 7,900 from 2001 to 2009. Although biking and walking are partly picking up the slack, public transport plays a significant role as well. This same group increased its use of public transport by 40% in terms of passenger-miles.

Combined Effort

The trend isn’t just due to lack of money – in fact, young people whose households annual incomes were over $70,000 increased their use of public transit by 100%. Ina survey by KRC Research and Zipcar, 45% of young people aged 18 to 34 years old said they have consciously made an effort to replace driving with transportation alternatives. Only 32% of older populations are consciously decreasing their driving.

Unlimited Transit Bus Rides

By and large, universities are already providing these young people with the public transit they want. According to a 1992 survey by the Transit Cooperative Research Program, 70% of the 30 universities surveyed had an unlimited access service in place for university transit. Most universities use a fee system, but only 27% rely on student fees for more than half of their transit revenue. Though fees can range from $8 per semester to a whopping $59 per semester the programs are still popular. Only 3.3% of universities have all passengers pay a fare – most either use a prepay service (53.3%) or have only people not associated with the university pay a fare (20%). These student-friendly payment structures are designed to encourage students to use the university transport service, and it appears to be working.

According to a 2007 report by the American Public Transportation Association, 10.6% of all public transit trips between 2000 and 2005 were trips to school. This is the most common reason for using public transit, after work commute. This percentage includes elementary and secondary school, but does not include dedicated school buses.

The Future Of University Transit

What’s clear from these statistics is that public transport use is on the rise, and universities are a major part of this increase. The great thing about universities is that there are many different kinds: urban, suburban, and country; high-population and low-population; sprawling and compact. Examining the way different universities handle payment structure, revenue sources, and accessibility can give us a glimpse of what does and does not work for transportation in different environments. Hopefully these statistics not only surprised you, but helped you learn more about universities’ use of buses on campus.