LANSING, Mich. - Michigan policymakers should wake up to the fact that residents are driving less and start focusing on public transit and biking alternatives, an advocacy group says.
Per-person driving miles in Michigan are down nearly 7 per cent since 2005. It's a trend occurring across the U.S.
"After 60 years of almost constant increases in the annual number of miles Americans drive, since 2004 Americans have decreased their driving per-capita for eight years in a row," the consumer group the PIRGIM Education Fund said in a report released last week. "Driving miles per person are down especially sharply among Millennials, America's largest generation that will increasingly dominate national transportation trends."
Millennials are generally defined as those born from the early 1980s through the early 2000s.
Some researchers say the changes are mostly a reflection of the economy and driving could bounce back. Others say the decline in driving reflects fundamental changes in the way Americans view the automobile.
PIRGIM said in the report that now is the time to spend more on public transit and other non-driving modes of transportation in Michigan. Some advocates question why the state spends so much on highway construction.
But others say Michigan highways are deteriorating and need maintenance.
Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder long has been struggling with the GOP-controlled Legislature over efforts to raise taxes to fund repairs and improvements to Michigan roads.
"Michigan's infrastructure is living on borrowed time," he said in a 2011 statement. "We must reinvest in it if we are to successfully reinvent our economy."
In his February budget proposal, Snyder called for raising fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees by $1.2 billion. But the politically unpopular plan wasn't embraced in the Legislature, and legislators instead took $230 million in unexpected one-time tax revenue and earmarked it for roads.