Texans who for generations have been the symbol of the car and truck culture are actually driving less, and that trend is expected to continue, according to a study by the Texas Public Interest Research Group.
Lead researcher Thomas Visco says Texans have reduced their driving by an amazing 13% since 2000, and our reduction in driving is actually more than the country as a whole during that period.
"Texans are actually driving less and over an eight year period have been driving less than the national average," Visco told 1200 WOAI news.
The report by the group, which is a liberal organization which opposes the development alternative energy sources, has several reasons for this surprising decline in personal vehicle use over the last 13 years.
Visco says while Baby Boomers say the personal vehicle as 'a representation of freedom and spontaneity,' today's Millennials see a car as an expensive headache, with high gasoline, insurance, maintenance, and parking costs attached to it. He says Millennials are far more likely to seek out homes near public transportation and use technology to seek out alternatives.
He says new technologies are 'giving Texans more freedom to drive less.' He points to bike sharing programs like San Antonio's B-Share, and even car sharing programs like Zipcar and car2go, which are particularly popular among Millennials who live in urban areas like San Antonio's LoBro neighborhood near the Pearl Brewery.
Visco says the higher price of gas is a factor, but he doesn't think it is the prime factor.
"We have seen this trend continue through good economic times and struggling economic times," he said. "It has continued through lower gas prices, and the very high gas prices that we have today."
And he says it isn't just Millennials who are driving less.
"Every generation, including Boomers, are decreasing the amount that they are driving," he said. "This is a trend which has been underway since 2005."
A new poll by the Texas Lyceum shows that a surprising 53% of Texans would be willing to pay higher taxes to build commuter rail lines or light rail systems between cities. That is actually higher than the percentage of Texans who say they would be 'somewhat or very willing' to pay higher taxes to build new roads and highways.