According to The Globe and Mail's Eric Reguly Rome, members of the Gen X and Gen Y crowd are opting for a life without the car. This may be true for Toronto, a city that sports bus, streetcars and subway lines; however, I don't think this article is looking at the youth living in the suburbia surrounding the city. Those ares, with their vast under-built expanses, combined with a sporadic and sometimes useless public transportation infrastructure, may still make the car more convenient despite the costs.
Baby boomers did everything and went everywhere in cars. Not so the Gen X and Gen Y crowds. They would rather spend their time on Facebook than fight the freeway traffic to see a buddy. They'd prefer to unleash their meagre incomes on iPhones, Lululemon and Starbucks than on car parking, maintenance and insurance. In some parts of North America, auto insurance for 18-year-old males costs about the same as a year of community college tuition.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, just 28% of 16-year-olds and 45% of 17-year-olds had driver's licences in 2010 (the most recent data available). In 1978, the corresponding figures were nearly half and more than two-thirds. A trend is in place, evidently. This past spring, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHA) reported that the proportion of 14- to 34-year-olds without licences rose to 26% in 2010 from 21% in 2000. Research done by the Frontier Group and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that the use of public transportation by Americans between the ages of 16 and 34 climbed by 40% between 2001 and 2009.
Similar trends are in place in Canada, Australia, Europe and Japan. The Japanese call it "demotorization." Cars used to be status symbols. Now, they're becoming unaffordable burdens.