Study: Valley students live closer to school, work

Young people are driving less and relying on public transportation more, according to a study released by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, part of a national nonprofit advocacy organization.

The study shows policymakers that Generation Y has different public transportation and real estate needs than older age groups, said Serena Unrein, Arizona PIRG spokeswoman.

According to the report, 62 percent of people ages 18 to 29 prefer living in areas near public transportation.

Latin American literature graduate student Solymar Torres said her 45-minute commute from her south Scottsdale home by bus and Valley Metro Light Rail to the Tempe campus was a result of expensive ASU parking passes.

Annual parking passes range from $210 at Lot 59 North or East to $780 at enclosed Tempe campus parking structures.

“It does save money,” Torres said. “That’s the main reason why I take the bus and light rail.”

Torres said she sees evidence of the study’s findings every day on her commute.

“I noticed in the morning there are a lot of students on the light rail, especially a lot of undergrads,” Torres said.

She said since the light rail began running in 2008, the largest ridership has been ages 18 to 34.

There has been a shift in attitude as young people are choosing to live closer to school and work to make better use of commute time, Unrein said.

“It’s not really appealing to people to spend a couple hours a day in their car commuting,” Unrein said. “If you are driving you can’t be doing homework (or) playing Words with Friends on your phone.”

Unrein said the study will catch the attention of legislators, reminding them to keep the younger generations’ needs in mind.

“It’s critical to pay attention to those trends and what makes most sense for our future,” Unrein said.

Electrical engineering graduate student Shahrouz Sharifi said the Orbit Mars is his main means of transportation after walking from his Tempe home.

Sharifi said he will continue to ride the Orbit if it continues to be free.

“As long as the Orbit is free, (and) if it should cost me more than that, I will get a car,” Sharifi said.

Sharifi said he has lived in places like Washington D.C. and Virginia where public transportation is more expensive than in Tempe.

“I would take a route from the center of the city and it would cost me $4,” Sharifi said. “I am thankful for this city.”

Christina Jones, a psychology junior, said she found it convenient to drive to a park-and-ride from her Mesa home.

“It was cheaper to buy a U-Pass than paying for a parking pass,” Jones said.

Criminal justice senior Tyson Osteen said proximity to the light rail was one of the reasons he chose his Tempe home.

Osteen said he drives to the Downtown campus for work and classes, but rides the light rail to the Tempe campus because “parking sucks.”

He said his commute from his Tempe home to the Downtown campus was time consuming and he found it convenient to drive.

“It’s so much easier to hop on the highway and drive downtown,” Osteen said.


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