Chris Kolb talks transit Tuesday at a Let's Save Michigan/MML event in Lansing.
LANSING, Michigan - Today's driving-age teens care more about buying the latest technology device than they do buying a car. This comment by Chris Kolb, president and CEO of the Michigan Environmental Council, really rings true in my household. Kolb said it during a Twitter talk about the future of transportation in Michigan Tuesday, Sept. 13, by the Michigan Municipal League and Let's Save Michigan. The panelists at the unique Twitter-focused event were Kolb, League CEO & Executive Director Dan Gilmartin, Rich Studley, president and CEO of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce; and Rory Neuner, project coordinator for Transportation for Michigan. The session was kicked off by a presentation by Robert Puentes, senior fellow for The Brookings Institution.
Kolb's comment about today's youth decreasing reliance on the automobile is also echoed frequently Gilmartin, who often talks about how Michigan youth are moving to cities like Chicago and New York where public transportation is readily available. Many of them, Gilmartin said, don't have cars and are moving to cities without jobs. He said they are drawn by the allure of these cities being fun, entertaining places where people want to live, work and play.
In my home, my 17-year-old son had little desire for about 18 months after his 16th birthday in getting his driver's license and was in interested in attending colleges in major cities - we did a college site visit in Chicago and Morgantown, West Virginia - two cities with excellent public transportation systems. For a long period of time, my son would rather have the latest iphone or a laptop than a car. While he took driver's training at age 15, he didn't get his license until a few weeks ago - a mere 5 months before his 18th birthday. It must be a generational thing as I've heard similar stories from my friends with children of the same age.
But for me and my generation, the day I turned 16 I was in line at the Secretary of State to get my license.
The point is public transportation is viewed much more favorable by millennials and the generations that follow. We need communities thinking about regional transportation. Kolb commented how someone could fly into Metro airport in Detroit and if they wanted to take public transportation to nearby Troy it would take three hours to do so. In contrast, it's very common for a family to go on vacation to Chicago, in part, just to ride the subway. Read more about the Michigan's Transportation Vision: A Twitter Talk on Twitter @letsavemich and @mmleague and the hashtag #mitransvision and here on this website.
Matt Bach is director of communications for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (734) 669-6317.
Rory Neuner and Dan Gilmartin listen to Rich Studley at Transit Vision Twitter event Tuesday.
Let's Save Michigan and Michigan Municipal League conduct at Transit Twitter Talk Tuesday.