Our regional growth strategy, Metro 2040: Shaping Our Future, is the collective vision for how our region will grow over the next 25 years. As we implement the plan, it’s important to consider who will make up the bulk of our workforce in the coming years, and their living and travel preferences.
Metro Vancouver’s Youth Getting Around
Millennials and the coming-of-age Generation Z have very different lifestyle preferences than the generations that preceded them. Understanding and responding to these preferences is important for how we plan and invest in our region.
Increasingly, younger generations are opting not to get a driver’s license. In fact, the percentage of Metro Vancouver residents aged 16 to 34 with a driver’s license dropped significantly between 2004 and 2013. The decline in licensed drivers was sharpest for those under 30. The trends vary by subregion with the sharpest declines in subregions that have the best access to transit service. However, the preference to opt for alternative modes of transportation seems to be consistent across Metro Vancouver.
Licensed Drivers in Metro Vancouver by Age Group (2004-2013)
Analyzing trends to inform decision making is a sound practice. Listening to what younger generations have to say on the matter is imperative. And no one says it in better harmony than the UBC A Cappella group in their transit-themed rendition of ‘I Get Around’. (also embedded at the top of this post).
Metro Vancouver’s Future Workforce and Office Location Trends
As youth move into the workforce, they aren’t looking for a car-dependent lifestyle. A recent transit ridership portrait created by Bing Thom Architects shows that 60 percent of riders in Metro Vancouver are under 40. It also revealed that transit riders in our region have a wide range of incomes and work in a variety of sectors. In other major west coast cities, transit tends to primarily serve low-income employees who mainly work in the service sector.
Metro Vancouver tracks and researches trends in office development location, and directs development to our region’s network of Urban Centres. Employers want to attract the best, young talent and provide a good work environment for their employees, and for many that can mean having their offices in transit accessible locations. The office development market in Metro Vancouver seems to be in tune with these trends, and increasingly offices are found in close proximity to frequent transit. Between 1990 and 2014, 48 million square feet of office space was built in Metro Vancouver, and 83 percent was located within walking distance of frequent transit.
Capitalizing on Trends for a Livable Region
The generations currently entering the workforce seem to prefer transit-oriented communities, and the market seems to be responding to that preference. If these trends continue – and if more residents have the opportunity to choose transit – there could be great social, economic, and environmental benefits for our region.
Today, 55 percent of Metro Vancouver residents live within a five-to-ten minute walk of frequent transit. The Mayors’ Council Transportation and Transit Plan will increase that to 70 percent. We now have the opportunity to provide the sustainable transportation options that future generations want.
This is part of a series to highlight the connection between investing in transit and achieving the goals of our regional growth strategy. These stories will demonstrate the long-term benefits of planning for growth and investing in transit for communities across our region.
Chair – Metro Vancouver