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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The social travel patterns of youth and young adults Thomas, Reena Anne Elizabeth


Young people between the ages of sixteen and twenty-nine represent one-third of transit riders in Canada and over half of transit riders in the Greater Vancouver Regional District. They socialize in different places, and at different times of day, from children or adults. Because they are often left out of transportation studies involving children or adults, researchers know little about the way in which young people travel. Twenty-one youth and young adults from Vancouver and Surrey participated in this exploratory study to determine the ways in which transportation affected their social travel patterns. Social network mapping and focus groups with youth aged 17-21 and young adults aged 22-25 revealed the constraints that young people face when they travel for social purposes. Young people tend to socialize in the evening and at night, when transit frequency and reliability are low. Extensive planning and organization of trips means that young people socialize in a few small social activity corridors, face long travel distances to the residential areas of the region, and rarely travel spontaneously. Their ability to use other alternative transportation modes, such as cycling and walking, is limited by long travel distances and consistently rainy weather for six months of the year. Young people also make extreme adjustments to their social lives, schedules and personal safety in order to take transit in the evening and at night. Although affordability is a significant barrier to car ownership, young people in the GVRD are also increasingly aware of urban planning and environmental issues, making them reluctant to rely on cars. Many choose transit as their preferred mode of transportation, and would like to continue to use transit in the future. This study contributed to an understanding of the social travel patterns of youth and young adults, and revealed the significance of this demographic in planning transit services. However, because of the small sample size, future research might include quantitative surveys of youth and young adults in the GVRD to clarify and reinforce their social travel patterns.

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