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Is Arizona's Love Affair With the Car Cooling Off?

Young people such as those seen here increasingly prefer using public transportation over driving a car. That's the finding of research from the Arizona Public Interest Research Group. Courtesy: Arizona PIRG
Young people such as those seen here increasingly prefer using public transportation over driving a car. That's the finding of research from the Arizona Public Interest Research Group. Courtesy: Arizona PIRG
August 20, 2015

PHOENIX – America's love affair with the car may be cooling off in Arizona and across the country.

A report from the Arizona Public Interest Research Group shows that millennials – those between 18 and 34 years old who make up a quarter of the state's population – prefer using public transportation over driving a car.

"More young people are using light rail, embracing bike lanes, walking to get to school, to recreate on the weekends, to get to employment," points out Diane Brown, executive director of Arizona PIRG.

Brown says research shows that from 2006 to 2013, Arizona experienced a 12 percent decline in annual vehicle miles traveled on a per-person basis.

She says the Metro Light Rail in Phoenix and the Tucson Streetcar are major public transportation assets.

Brown says Proposition 104, which Phoenix residents vote on next week, would fund major expansions to light rail, bus service and other public transportation options. She says research shows that Arizonans will use public transportation if it's available.

"The more that the demand is there and the more that municipal leaders are providing those opportunities, the more we see the ridership numbers increase, and the decrease in miles traveled," she states.

Brown says the trend of Arizonans driving less extends to less populated areas such as Flagstaff and Yuma. She says seniors also are using public transportation more, because it offers a good alternative to managing a car and is a big help for those who can no longer safely operate a vehicle.

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project also released a report recently, which also shows that Americans overall are driving less.

Lori Abbott/Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ