Alice Saunders has won the 2019 Voorhees-Large Prize for her University College London (The Bartlett) Transport and City Planning Masters dissertation ‘Living at home and going nowhere? How living with parents affects the travel behaviour of millennial Londoners’.

 

Alice was an analyst in Transport for London’s (TfL’s) City Planning team, where she researched economic, demographic and behavioural trends affecting travel in London. She also analysed data to monitor and evaluate progress towards the aims laid out in the Mayors Transport Strategy.

 

Alice grew up in London, and completed her undergraduate degree in economic geography at the London School of Economics. She joined TfL in 2016 on their Transport Planning Graduate Scheme, completing rotational placements in the Active Travel and Environment Strategy team, at Crossrail 2 and in Strategic Analysis. She also took an external secondment at urban analytics consultancy Space Syntax Ltd. She studied part-time for her MSc in Transport and City Planning, graduating with distinction and with the prize for best overall performance on the programme.

 

Explaining her dissertation Alice said ‘we’ve all heard the phrase ‘the boomerang generation’. An estimated 14.5% of 25-34 year-olds in London now live with their parents, up from 7.8% in 2002. My dissertation ‘Living at home and going nowhere: how living with parents affects the travel behaviour of millennial Londoners’ explores how this growing phenomenon affects everyday travel using data from TfL’s London Travel Demand Survey. Emerging evidence suggests that millennials - those aged 20-38- are travelling less than previous generations did at the same age. The causes of this trend, and its likely endurance, remain key questions for transport planners as we forecast demand and seek to accelerate mode shift. My research focussed on the impact of one well documented lifestyle change associated with the millennial cohort.

 

Using structural equation modelling in R to control for demographic and geographical influences, my dissertation found that millennial Londoners who live ‘at home’ travel less frequently than those who live independently. Traditionally large numbers of young people move into inner London for work, attracted by the connectivity and ‘urban buzz’. But those who remain living in their family home are more likely to live in suburban locations that are less accessible by public transport. They record higher levels of car access and, on average, must travel further to work and for leisure than millennials who live independently. As a result, they make a smaller proportion of trips by walking, cycling and public transport.

 

Multi-generational living therefore raises questions not just of exclusion from the housing market but also of transport-related social exclusion. My findings confirm the need for transport planners to look beyond traditional determinants of travel demand and to consider the external constraints under which young adults make travel choices, as well as the norms and habits that might develop during this time.

 

Responding to being told she had won the 2019 Voorhees-Large Prize. Alice said ‘I am absolutely delighted to receive the Voorhees-Large Prize 2019. There has been much speculation about the ‘unique’ behaviour of millennials. I hope that, in a small way, this research challenges the often-assumed homogeneity of young people’s travel behaviour, and adds to the evidence about underlying structural forces that shape and constrain everyday travel choices. I’m especially grateful for the support of Emilia Smeds, my supervisor at UCL, and my fantastic colleagues in the Strategic Analysis team at TfL’.

 

Alice Saunders

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