Major decline in number of young licensed drivers in Metro Vancouver: statistics

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Driver male man driving car / Shutterstock

Getting a driver’s license was often seen as a rite of passage into adulthood, but certain economic realities and increased transit accessibility are the leading reasons for the decline in car culture among Metro Vancouver’s younger populations.

New data compiled by ICBC and extrapolated by Metro Vancouver shows a signifiant decline among individuals that are 20 to 24-years-old and hold driver’s licenses. The number fell to 55 per cent from 70 per cent in 2004.

For the age group between 25 to 29-years-old, there was a ten per cent drop during the same time frame from 77 per cent to 67 per cent.

There were also modest declines for the 30 to 34-year-old age group, but the licensing rate for adults older than 34 through 50 remained relatively stable. Older adults were the only segment of the age categorized population to have seen an increase in driver’s licensing.

According to the report, the decline coincides with new learning standards that make the driver’s licensing process more challenging, the introduction and widespread expansion of the U-Pass program in 2003, the increase in gasoline prices, and the expansion of transit such as the Millennium Line, Canada Line and increased bus service.

The greatest declines were seen in the municipalities that are the most urbanized and served by a substantial level of public transit. Vancouverites within the 20 to 24-year-old age group saw one of the greatest declines in the region, from 61 per cent to 45 per cent, although this number could be inflated given that UBC’s numbers are a part of this calculation.

Burnaby and New Westminster’s proportion declined from 68 per cent to 50 per cent, likely due in part to the increased accessibility to transit following the construction of the Millennium Line.

Richmond also saw a similar drop of nearly 20 per cent from 2003. Metro Vancouver’s data shows that the biggest year-to-year drop for both Vancouver and Richmond was in 2009 when the Canada Line opened for service.

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Featured Image: young driver via Shutterstock

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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