To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, November 14, 2014

Armed with a fleet of Teslas, Shift takes aim at Uber, public transit


By Greg Ferenstein, November 7, 2014

 Shift wants to change the way we get around cities.

A new transportation start-up, Shift, is creating its own intelligent mass private transit system. Moving around a city would be far less complicated if every bike, car, and bus was connected to an intelligent system that could automatically decide which mode of transit was the quickest for pedestrians to get from point A to point B. But upgrading every piece of transit equipment is too ambitious for a city government.

 So, with $13 million in funding and legal playground in the tiny metro of downtown Las Vegas, Shift is creating a 21st century transit system from the ground up. The company made headlines after it purchased 100 Teslas for the core of its fleet, but has since been silent about how exactly the company planned to tackle both Uber and public transit. For the first time, Shift has provided the Washington Post with a demo of how it will work.

 The Basics and a demo


Shift’s guiding philosophy is that most city dwellers don’t care much about the vehicle that gets them from point A to point B, as long as they can get to their destination cheaply and quickly.

To that end, Shift has designed to take the thinking out of transit. A fleet of private bicycles, tiny smart cars, Teslas, shuttles and on-call valets are scattered throughout a city’s downtown “urban core.” The company guarantees that users can be on their way with the most efficient transportation means within five minutes of summoning the app.

In the demo video above at their downtown Vegas headquarters, Jamie Schieber, customer service director, shows us what happens when I tell Shift that I want to go the local watering hole, the Golden Nugget, a few miles away.

Shift’s algorithm searches through its inventory of transit options and eventually selects a Tesla; an electric car was chosen because the company has a few reserved parking spots near the bar and it’s far enough away that an car is quicker than a bike.

“It’s basically a math calculation. Where you are + where you want to go + how you want to go (drive/ride/bike) = the mode we match you to,” explains chief executive Zach Ware in an e-mail.

“That decision is based on factors including the distance we predict your trip to be, your past patterns of movement or our predictions on what the system balance needs might be during your trip.”

After a decision is made, an electronic key reader automatically opens up the car, and the user is asked to answer a few basic questions about the condition of the car before they zip off.

At the moment, Shift is just piloting in the small downtown Vegas core and prices aren’t public. Ware tells me that he wants it to be affordable, with lowest tier as low around $25 for bike-only access; pricing gets more expensive at $250 for 20-30 trips, and $500 for frequent travelers.

Each package will contain a set of self-driving and valet options. If a user never wanted to drive a car again, they could splurge for an unlimited set of Shift “Valet+” drivers, but the company expects that most users will want to use a health mix of all transportation options.

Shift: We’re not Uber.

“Our biggest competitor is your car,” says Ware, who adamantly argues that he’s not trying to tackle the rising car-sharing behemoth, Uber. Instead, Shift has two missions: eliminate the need to own a car and make it easier for commuters to live outside of downtown metros.

Still, even if everyone took an Uber to work, cities would still be crowded with noise and air-polluting cars. “I was a huge Uber fan when it launched,” says Ware. However, “long term, when we look at platform plays like Lyft and Uber, they’re encouraging more cars to be on the road.” Uber has an incentive to pack as many cars on the road as possible to minimize wait times for each pickup request.

In fairness, Uber has added a carpooling feature to ease congestion, but Ware doubts carpooling can ever truly solve the problem of less cars on the road.

Users don’t want to be bothered with deciding whether it’s worth $15 to take an Uber or dealing with the erratic schedule of public buses. The subscription takes the hassle out of deciding, and users can just focus on what they want to do at a location, rather than dealing with how to get there.

Unlike Uber, Shift is a membership company; everyday the company has to impress its customers if it wants them moving up the tiered pricing structure. It’s partly why it splurged on Teslas.

“It’s the primary vehicle behind our Valet+ program. We wanted to provide a premium ride experience for our members but needed a vehicle with range similar to a gas powered car,” explains Ware.

And, perhaps most importantly, all Valet+ chauffeurs are full-time employees. In contrast, Uber employes an army of contract workers, who have to service and buy their own vehicle. Uber’s hands-off approach has seen strikes around the country, with picketing drivers angry over lack of benefits, a stable income, and abrupt pricing changes.

Shift employees, instead, perform every function within the company, from cleaning cars to chauffeuring users. If a car breaks down, an employee is immediately dispatched to pick up the wayward consumer and whisk them off to their location. It’s a white-glove approach to a car service that aims for deepening relationships with its user base. It also believes that happier employees will treat consumers better than a disinterested taxi driver.

Shift is even constructing a “drunk bus” for busy weekend nights to pick up the hoards of inebriated users stumbling around downtown Vegas. But it’s more of a party bus than a shuttle. Ware imagines that the bus will greet tipsy users with a cocktail as music blares in the background.

If more than one bus is needed, Shift could connect to users Facebook graph and construct an entire drunk bus of friends, so that they are officially the most fun transit option in the area.

Shift has set an ambitious goal of attempting to “relieve the pressure” on overcrowded cities, where residents would rather pay sky-high rents for a tin-can apartment than commuting every day from a cheaper outlying suburb. To accomplish this Shift plans on expanding parked vehicles into multi-family housing units and around the suburbs ringing city cores. Eventually it wants “dynamically routed” shuttles that pick up commuters in the most efficient way possible. Kind of like a UPS truck delivering human commuters.

If Shift is successful, company executives imagine solving the plague of sky-high city rents by allowing residents a quick and comfortable commute from the spacious suburban real-estate outside overcrowded cities.

For now, Shift has its eye on medium-size cities, which are experiencing the same pocket-busting rent spikes as New York or San Francisco, but with a population small enough that a successful start-up could significantly influence enough residents to move to orbiting suburbs.

Is Shift an Uber Killer?

Over the long-haul, it’s difficult to imagine a world where both Uber and Shift co-exist in peaceful capitalistic harmony. Shift’s subscription service seems like a delightfully convenient alternative for young urban dwellers who want to ditch their car. Indeed, I sold my car when I first moved to San Francisco, in large part because I knew I could rely on Uber when I really needed to get somewhere quick.

In practice, I often find myself taking public transportation more than expected, because I’m more fickle in the moment when I have a choice between a $2 bus and a $15 chauffeur experience. For San Franciscans who don’t like public transit, Shift may be the very excuse people need to finally get rid of their cars.

In the short-term, Uber may be compelled to copy Shift’s membership model, just as it adopted UberX from Lyft, the companies primary ride-sharing competitor, who originally popularized drivers who use their own cars as taxis.

Since Shift is aiming to fundamentally change transportation behavior, it’s hard to say what will happen. Already in their downtown pilot, Ware tells me that “the average trip length is a lot shorter than we anticipated. People are moving a lot and they are moving quickly.” Unlike Uber, Shift is giving pedestrians a completely new set of options to move around a city. If it continues to discover latent desires, the entire ridesharing industry could adapt to their findings.

“If mobility were completely frictionless and free of cost per use, your psychology of what you could do in a day could fundamentally change,” Ware said.

The Long, Elusive Path to That Westside-Valley Transit Project


By Ken Alpern, November 14, 2014


GETTING THERE FROM HERE-One of the problems facing those who long for better transportation options, such as a new freeway, rail line, sidewalk or bicycle path is that so many things compete for prioritization. 
Ditto for infrastructure associated with water, power, sewage, energy, the Internet or cable. And as someone who's longed for a Westside-Valley (or Valley-Westside) transit project, I suggest you consider the following:  it's not going to happen anytime soon. 

Which is a pity, and certainly not a suggestion that this project, which would link the San Fernando Valley to the Westside (and vice versa) and offer commuters traveling across the Sepulveda Pass another option to the mega-congested I-405 freeway, is a low-priority project or one that isn't important. 

It's just that there are so many other big projects already prioritizing rail construction resources--the Expo Line, the Foothill Gold Line, the Downtown Light Rail Connector, the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Wilshire Subway make up 5 projects that will create long east-west and north-south projects that will link the entire county to Downtown and LAX. 

So where does the Westside-Valley (or Sepulveda Pass) Transit Project exist in the grand scheme of things? 

A victim of geography and lack of consensus, unfortunately--and a BIG price-tag, to boot, as the growing awareness that this project will likely exist as another subway permeates its way through the hopes and dreams of planners everywhere.  

Just as the idea of light rail to the various regions of the county (such as the South Bay) have to take a back seat to connecting MetroRail to LAX, the Wilshire Subway, which just broke ground, will have to reach the 405 freeway before it can be connected north to the Valley with a Sepulveda Pass Line. 

And when would that happen?  2025?  2030?  2035?  Hard to say--the costs and legal issues surrounding the Purple Line aren't going away, despite the desire of many to build the Wilshire Subway (also known a the Metro Purple Line). 

Furthermore, the price tag of converting the Orange Line Busway ($2 billion or more) to a light rail line, and bring the San Fernando Valley up the same transit standards as the rest of the county, pales before the cost of this Sepulveda Pass project, which could easily be $4-6 billion or more...so the SF Valley will probably first create an Orange Light Rail Line. 

Not hard to conclude that--despite the Measure R-funded $1 billion for the Sepulveda Pass project--the goal of establishing both ends of the future Westside-Valley rail project (the Orange and Purple Lines, perhaps the Orange and Expo Lines) has to come first.

Yet other unanswered questions abound--would this be a rail project only, or a combined "Big Dig" to create an underground freeway toll project to enhance freeway capacity while also creating a light rail line?  

Would a heavy-rail project to be compatible with the Wilshire Subway be chosen?  Would a light-rail project to be compatible with the Green, Crenshaw and Expo Lines be chosen? 

Regardless of how these questions are answered, until a Major Investment Study is commenced we won't be able to know what will be built.  That $1 billion from Measure R could simply create a fleet of buses and some bus/rail interface stations to utilize the new carpool/HOV lanes that just opened...and that's all we'll see for now. 

(And for those wanting the Wilshire Subway to proceed west beyond the I-405 freeway to go to the ocean...well, you REALLY will have to wait!) 

Which--to repeat my opening sentiments--doesn't mean that this project is unimportant.  It's just a victim of geography, priority, costs and lack of consensus.  But it's not a project that's going away.  

Not long ago, the Expo and Wilshire rail lines were science fiction, and look where they're at now.

So...try to focus on what we can do, and what we are doing, and try to remember that the big battles for traffic relief and improvement do NOT involve what rail lines or freeway projects we're building.  

They involve the tendency to overplan and overbuild our commercial and residential developments.  Because no matter what we build, unsustainable overdevelopment will trump every new transportation project--no matter how beneficial, and no matter what helpful effects are associated with it--every time.
le Lines, perhaps the Orange and Expo Lines) has to come first.

Big Businesses Thumb Their Noses at Hurting Port Truck Drivers …Everybody Loses


By Rosemary Jenkins, November 14, 2014

JUST SAYIN’-Wage suppression, wage theft, unpaid sick leave—the three prongs of the devil’s trident.  The devil, you ask?  Under-regulated big businesses thumbing their noses at the very workers who make their enormous profits possible. 
The desperate working conditions of truck drivers (who work out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach) have been an ongoing concern.  

A number of organizations (like the LA County Federation of Labor, LAANE, La Causa, and others) are grappling with these challenges on behalf of these previously voiceless workers and are diligently trying to convince our City lawmakers that these injustices can no longer be tolerated.  At minimum, the effort is to accomplish the following: 

1)    Eliminate the misclassification of drayage workers
2)    Raise the minimum wage as quickly as possible to at least $15 an hour
3)    Allow unionization among workers who desire it
4)    Prevent wage theft
5)    Mandate 5 paid sick days per year
6)    Provide driver safety and well-being 

These drivers load a broad variety of goods which are brought in by ships from around the world.  The cargo is taken to warehouses which dot our landscape and are then reloaded for distribution to the stores from which we buy our consumables.  The business paradigm is to minimize cost by keeping driver pay at the lowest possible level (but not a living wage) for those on whom we depend to maintain our respective standards of living. 

To make matters worse, on the heels of the recent port demonstration on November 7, 2014, the Los Angeles and Long Beach Trucking Association is in the process of asking for an exemption from the federally mandated 34 consecutive-hour rest period for drivers.  

The rationale is to keep the yards open seven days a week (Sundays are now closed) in order to move cargo whose deliveries have been delayed due to heavy congestion on the yards.  Customers have complained vociferously about the unreliable arrival times of the goods they need to conduct business.  Hence, the requested exception. 

There is an obvious conundrum here for both owners and workers, but granting the request would also create a slippery slope.  My husband, being a truck driver by profession, has shared with me many horror stories of drivers who have fallen asleep on the road—teamsters (not to be confused with unionized Teamsters with shop steward representatives) who have caused accidents, often deadly, not from actual negligence but as a consequence of sleep deprivation. 

Yes, many drivers are eager for the overtime to help pay the bills, but the laws are in place for the health and safety of those very drivers whose well-being affects the rest of us as well.  The reality is, Allow this first step now and open the door to an even shorter rest period the next time. 
How about this easy solution?  Hire more truck drivers and provide more chassis to haul the cargo containers!  A win-win for everyone! 

Companies, like Green Fleet (the “poster child of wage theft”), Pace Carter, Inc., Pacific 9 Transportation, and Total Transportation Services, are among the worst perpetrators of worksite intimidation and retaliation!  

What are many of the grievances that have been reported over time? 
  • Unspeakable ill-treatment for those workers who question policy or file grievances 
  • Misclassifying drivers (to put it kindly) as independent contractors which “can save a company about $4000 a year per infraction” but can cost the workers thousands of dollars during the same period 
Under such classification, these workers are then required (at their own, out-of-pocket expense) to provide (among other obligations) maintenance and repair for “their” trucks, pay for gasoline and insurance, and cover toll road costs.  Such outlays can easily add to about half of their income! 
  • Wage theft is an overwhelming reality, not only for these truck drivers but for workers in other establishments, such as in big box retail stores (like Walmart), tip staff in many restaurants, and sub-contractors at many hair salons. 
  • What of the lack of paid sick leave?  It seems to me that it is unconscionable to “make” ill employees work (or lose their pay) when they ought to be home, taking care of themselves instead of transmitting their illnesses to those with whom they come into contact at work. 
  • Many employees (in order to keep their jobs) are literally forced to work off the clock and, thus must work hours for which they are not paid at all.  Others are taxed unfairly through a disingenuous accounting system.  Often tip equivalency is stolen by management when figuring out pay warrants.   
Port drivers are frequently denied their rightful pay from companies which break labor laws with impunity.  By being classified as independent contractors, drivers become burdened with a minimum wage that is not a living age, and overtime rules that are flagrantly violated.  Profit for the company—unbearable debt for the laborer.  

Drivers, like Mateo Mares and Amicar Cardona who had the audacity to stand up to their bosses about their ill-treatment and untenable working conditions, were fired for their efforts.  In fact, “one anti-union Green Fleet driver who has been acting as an agent of the company made death threats against pro-union drivers and helped management retaliate against them.”  

This kind of behavior is not atypical of what transpires at many other companies, such as El Super (where I have personally observed intimidating behavior during a recent demonstration at one of the markets—right in full view of management, participants, and even the police).

Matters had gotten so bad at the docks that a Federal court had to be brought in to decide on how to handle the many grievances.  Its ruling in favor of the plaintiff workers was soon upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Thus came the appreciative response:  “The invisible class of contract workers that keeps the American retail economy running smoothly has won a significant courtroom victory in their long-running campaign to end a systematic violation of their labor rights.” 

As Julie Gutman Dickinson, a Teamster attorney in this matter, indicated unequivocally that “misclassified independent contractors are, in fact, employees that are entitled to choose union representation and cannot be fired for their union activities or for filing claims for wage theft.”  Thus, the Ninth Circuit ruling.

One set of grievances that had been filed against Green Fleet reflects a broader, systemic breach of established labor laws.  These complaints have included the following: 
  • Some employees were encouraged to harass and intimidate union sympathizers in the hope that a fight would break out, thus “justifying” employment termination for the victim. The “scabs” would often take pictures of workers, who were promoting union contracts, to justify firing the activist employees. 
  • Often management would attempt to trick employees into signing anti-union petitions (whose wording was kept out of sight).  We have seen this same behavior at El Super. 
It is certainly comforting to know, however, that City and Port executives seem to be uniformly in support of rectifying the plight and promoting the legal rights of the port drivers, many of whom are presently taking home negative paychecks (due to the illegal costs that these companies are forcing them to cover). 

In the meantime, because of the court ruling, complainants Mares and Almicar (in just the last few days) have been returned to work in good standing.  Green Fleet has been ordered to cease and desist all unlawful labor practices or suffer consequential legal repercussions.  

The impact of the court ruling will be considerable:  A result of one portion of the decision will mandate compensating all complainants in this suit with the back wages (plus penalties) which they are owed—an amount which could come close to a million dollars.  The question remains, Will Green Fleet and similar companies comply or risk further consequences?  What will their bean counters recommend? 

It should be obvious, then, that we must continue to draw attention to the crimes against the working poor—the results of which dramatically affect all of us!  Expect further mobilization to get drayage owners to comply:  Beginning on November 13, 2014, and continuing for a week, there will be around-the-clock picketing (in 8-hour shifts) to put an end to wage theft and other indefensible violations.  

I certainly encourage participation in the picketing by all who are in a position to commit their time.  In the meantime, it is not too late:  word-of-mouth is a great way to spread the word. 

According to Teamster boss, James P. Hoffa, “Justice for port drivers means justice for all American workers!”  Thus, these rulings should be interpreted as supporting a new-and-improved version of the “trickle down” theory:  Justice for the “least” of us will bring justice for all of us!  
Just sayin’.
ent, participants, and even the police).

Metro Postpones Approving ENA for Mariachi Plaza, Gets Blasted for Having it on Agenda in First Place


By Sahra Sulaiman, November 13, 2014

 Recognize this place? Me, neither. But it's a rendering of the potential future of Mariachi Plaza. (Source: Metro)

 Recognize this place? Me, neither. But it’s a rendering of the potential future of Mariachi Plaza. (Source: Metro)

“Injustice. [...] Lack of accountability. Lack of outreach in our community,” a frustrated Teresa Marquez, president of the Boyle Heights Stakeholders Association, told the Metro Board of Directors this morning. “Nobody’s talking to us!”

She was right.

Metro had apparently reneged on promises in 2012 that, “prior to seeking Metro Board approval [for a project at Mariachi Plaza], staff will be conducting a meeting to update the community regarding the development site.

Instead, only a handful of people were made aware of the plans for an 8-story parking garage with medical offices and a 3-story retail and fitness center adjacent to the plaza, the motion before the Planning Committee last Tuesday to grant developer Primestor an 18-month Exclusive Negotiation Agreement and Planning Document (ENA) for the site, or the motions to grant ENAs to two other affordable housing projects slated for Cesar Chavez/Soto and 1st/Soto.

The firestorm the Mariachi Plaza plans and the lack of community outreach ignited (not even the neighborhood councils had been advised of the plans) prompted the Board to pull the item and the two linked to affordable housing from the consent agenda. All three were postponed until February of 2015 in order to give the developers time to engage the community in the planning process. *(The extension of the ENA for the 1st/Lorena site, which some hoped to also see postponed, was granted to A Community of Friends.)

It was a move that Primestor CEO and Co-founder Arturo Sneider said he applauded.
During the public comment period, he spoke of Metro’s Request for Proposals (RFP) process as keeping them from being able to do extensive community engagement.

Although Metro had released the RFP almost a year ago, Primestor could do no outreach during the “blackout period” while its proposal was being considered. And since Metro had only conducted the final interviews in September and decided upon the winning proposals some time after that, there really had been no time for a community process. (The same had been true with the proposals for housing at 1st/Soto and Cesar Chavez/Soto)

Sneider reassured Metro that Primestor was committed to community engagement and local hiring, and was looking forward to beginning that process.

It was not enough to reassure those present to protest the project. While they were pleased that Metro had (finally) listened to the community, they were frustrated at their sense they were never seen as a partner in development and that their voices only tended to be heard when there was a massive outcry in the eleventh hour.

Many of the speakers wanted to make it clear that community engagement was not only important for a productive planning process, but also essential to ensure that current residents would be able to reap the benefits of any investments in the area.

One gentleman declared he was “appalled” at Metro’s failure to create an advisory committee for the project at Mariachi Plaza and its consistent shutting out of his community from discussions about “what [Boyle Heights] could become.” People were eager to be part of that conversation, he argued, and making them a part of it would result in a “win-win situation” for everybody.

When there is some mystery around development, agreed Boyle Heights Neighborhood Councilmember (BHNC) Mynor Godoy, it never ends well for the community.

Foregoing outreach and relying on data to make decisions about what Boyle Heights needed, concluded planning student Edber Macedo, would not work either. Planning needed to be inclusive and community-driven to be successful.

The belief that respect for the community and inclusivity were paramount underlay comments from a number of speakers that took the Board, Metro, and even Mayor Eric Garcetti to task for the costs they felt they had incurred when the Gold Line was pushed through.

A business owner from Chinatown spoke of how the train and the focus on large-scale transit-oriented development projects had hurt long-standing small businesses in his community. He warned those in Boyle Heights the same could happen to them and asked that Metro find ways to make development benefit the local entrepreneurs.

Railing against housing and a grocery store that had been demolished to make way for the train, resident Imelda Alvarez said in Spanish, You must return what you took [from us].

Carmen Fuentes agreed, saying, “[Housing and grocery markets] are the things that we need. Metro has a responsibility to bring those things back.”

What they did not need, Fuentes, Alvarez, and a chorus of residents that had come with the East L.A. Community Corporation to support affordable housing and transit-oriented development believed, was for both Garcetti and Metro to “contradict [themselves]” and “go against your own transit goals” by potentially allowing for a retail and parking structure project — especially one that did not fit the community’s needs — to go forward.

If you were going to support parking, Alvarez asked, why did you build the train? 

But perhaps the most poignant testimony came from Arturo Ramirez, head of the Organization of United Mariachis of Los Angeles, who feared mariachis would soon find themselves unwelcome at Mariachi Plaza.

Speaking in Spanish he said that, while stakeholders had been told Primestor had designed their project to both enhance the plaza and help the mariachis, We were not told how that was supposed to happen.

Demolishing the buildings hosting small businesses and important community murals, he felt, could not possibly result in anything other than the loss of what he called the “cultural beauty” of the area.

And the time that it took complete construction could result in a significant loss of revenue for the mariachis, just as the construction of the Metro Line had.

Worse still, he worried, the new retailers might see the mariachis as a nuisance, resulting in their displacement from the very place that had long been defined by their presence.

“A change of that magnitude [at Mariachi Plaza],” concluded resident Leticia Andrade, following on Ramirez’ comments, “will change the community.”

This Dutch City Built a Glowing 'Van Gogh' Bike Path for Psychedelic Cyclists

The luminescent path is modeled after the painter's "The Starry Night."


By John Metcalfe, November 14, 2014


Psychonauts seeking a two-wheeled spirit quest should head to northern Europe, where the Dutch have just unveiled a dreamy bike path that makes it seem like you're riding atop the Milky Way.
The "Van Gogh-Roosegaarde" cycle avenue debuted this week just outside of Eindhoven, the design capital of the southern Netherlands. It's a collaboration between construction firm Heijmans and Daan Roosegaarde, the same duo who built a nearby glow-in-the-dark highway. The path's swirling, spectral patterns are meant to recall "The Starry Night," the delirious masterpiece that Dutch native son Vincent van Gogh painted while locked in an asylum.


The path's supernatural aura comes from thousands of embedded nuggets that suck up solar energy and release it as light at night. The project cost about $870,000 and is part of a larger effort to make the region a laboratory for sustainable infrastructure. Roosegaarde says he hopes it will feel like "techno-poetry" that "people will experience in a special way" (perhaps with the assistance of certain locally popular substances?).

Turn off the lights and take a test drive:

The 10 Biggest Factors Changing Millennial Driving Habits

A chart-filled data dive on one of mobility's most important trends.


By Eric Jaffe, November 14, 2014

The only thing everyone agrees on about Millennial driving habits is that they're on the decline. As you'll see in the chart below, every American age group drove less in 2009 than in 2001, but the gaps were strikingly high in the 20- to 40-year-old segments of the population. There's no arguing with these numbers:

Where things get polarized is why these shifts have occurred, because answering that question would help predict how these patterns will hold up in the future—and thus what policies we should adopt in the present. So we see cities claiming victory over Millennials. And we see suburbs making similarly compelling cases. We see claims that technology is changing Millennial behavior. And counter-claims that economics are at the root of this shift. It's a tug-of-war for America's young adults.

Here's the thing: it's very unlikely any single factor will emerge as the overriding reason why Millennials aren't driving as much as their parents did. Life just isn't that clean. To that end, Steven Polzin of the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida and colleagues do the debate a huge service with an objective data dive into the 10 biggest factors changing Millennial driving behavior, based on a 2009 national travel survey. Let's follow them inside the numbers:

1. Place of residence. Cities and suburbs each lay claim on Millennial living preferences, but as both places become more friendly to alternative travel modes, a more telling divide may come between metro and rural areas. The share of 18- to 30-year-olds in cities today is pretty close to what it was for Boomers: 32 to 28 percent, respectively, according to Polzin and company. But for towns and rural areas the share today is 14 percent, compared with 26 percent for Boomers. Given how much more driving occurs in non-metro areas, the shift into metros alone likely explains much of the overall decline.

2. Race/ethnicity. White Americans tend to drive more than other races and ethnicities do. But Millennials appear to be more diverse along these lines than young adults were in previous generations. There were 10 million fewer whites aged 20-to-39 in 2009 than in 1990, according to Polzin's team—a 16 percent change. If that diversity continues to grow, driving habits might continue to drop.

3. Education. Millennials are very well-educated, especially compared with Baby Boomers, and well-educated people tend to drive more than those who aren't. As 20- to 39-year-olds complete their education and enter the work force—assuming they can enter the work force—vehicle mileage among this group might increase. Of course, that also assumes they can pay down their enormous student loan debts and still have money left over for a home or a car.

4. Income. Money is certainly a huge factor in Millennial driving patterns. That's largely because people who make more tend to drive more, and right now Millennials just aren't making very much. What's very striking about the per-capita figures collected by Polzin et al, is that Millennials making a lot of money don't seem to be driving much more than those making very little. The over $100,000 category is the same as the $50-54,000 range, which isn't much higher than the $30-34,000 (i.e. intern) range. That said, the very low end of the scale shows a clear drop-off.

5. Living arrangements. Traditionally, personal driving patterns have been heavily influenced by living arrangements. People who own single-family homes unsurprisingly drive a lot more than people who rent apartments, Millennials included. With lots of Millennials beginning their adult life in their parents' homes—this described about 36 percent of 18- to 31-year-olds in 2012, compared with 32 percent in 1968—where they go next will have a lot to say about how much they drive.

6. Lifecycle delay. People are marrying later in life: between 1970 and 2012, according to Polzin and company, age at marriage increased from about 23 to 29 for men and nearly 21 to 27 for women. Meanwhile, a woman's age at the time she had her first child increased from 21 to nearly 26 over the same period. Yet two-person households drive more than solos do across the board, especially when they have a young child, and these patterns are holding up for Millennials, as the figures below show. The big question is not so much whether the solos in these cohorts will drive more once they start families, but whether they'll start traditional families at all.

7. Licenses. Graduate license programs, paired with many of the economic factors mentioned above, have led to a decline in the share of licensed drivers under age 35—down from 46 percent in 1981 to 30 percent in 2012. Even if these Millennials get a license eventually, the question again becomes whether their non-driving habits will carry over into later years as a lifestyle preference.

8. Car-ownership. Whether or not you have a car has an enormous impact on how much you drive, even among Millennials, as the figures below show. At the same time, many of the economic and life-cycle factors mentioned above will make it either more difficult or less necessary for young people to make that purchase—something that has auto-makers scrambling to figure out a more attractive way to market to Millennials (i.e., the dashboard selfie). If nothing else, write Polzin et al, Millennials seem less infatuated with cars as status symbols than Boomers were.

9. Environmental values. While it's often presumed that Millennials have more respect for the environment than previous generations did, and thus a motivation to find cleaner ways of travel, that's not entirely clear in the population data. Pew surveys have shown that Millennials are actually less likely to consider themselves environmentalists, compared to other age segments. Then again, it's possible to interpret these figures to mean Millennials take environmental awareness as a given that need not be expressed.

10. Technology. It's been said (and challenged) that one reason Millennials don't drive as much is that they connect through technology rather than geography. No one doubts that technology is a native language for Millennials. The problem for transport predictions is that technology can just as easily expand car travel (think: the ease of using Uber to meet up with a friend, or the ease of ordering a delivery) as replace it.

What exactly all these factors will mean for Millennial driving habits is still anyone's guess. The charts show pretty clearly that when Millennials live like previous generations did, they drive like older Americans do. What they can't show is whether young people are merely delaying traditional lifestyles or actively changing them. Economics will certainly have a lot to do with that trajectory, but so will the strength of habits being established early on in life—something that's much harder to quantify. For now, anyone offering more certainty on the situation ahead is likely looking into the numbers and seeing not a clear future projection but their own present beliefs.

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