In a break with the past, Houstonians say they want more urban lifestyles, complete access to mass transit, and walkable, mixed-use developments.

A full 56 percent of Harris County residents who responded to the latest Kinder Houston Area Survey said that Houston developing a “much-improved mass transit system” is very important for the city’s future success. But, interestingly, 61 percent of respondents said they had not taken a city bus or light rail in the past year.  

“The romance with the automobile, which has been the essence of Houston for most of its modern history, is clearly fading,” survey founder Stephen Klineberg said in a release. “The suburbs are more crowded, gas prices and traffic congestion are soaring, fewer households have children at home, and the lure of urban amenities, both in downtown Houston and in suburban ‘town centers,’ is generating a sea-change in area residents’ living preferences.”

While 78 percent of respondents said that Houston is a “good or excellent” place to live, there is room for improvement. Klineberg, speaking about the survey to the Greater Houston Partnership, offered some suggestions for changes that should be made, including, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Jeannie Kever, “investment in universal preschool and additional efforts to boost the city’s environmental and aesthetic infrastructure.”

“Houston needs a different agenda than when the East Texas oil fields were the basis for its wealth,” said Klineberg, a Rice University sociology professor and co-director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

The suburbs also seem to have lost their allure, according to a release:

In 1999, 52 percent of Anglos living in the city of Houston said they would someday like to move to suburbs, compared with 26 percent of those in the suburbs who were interested in moving to the city. This year, the figures are reversed: Just 28 percent of city residents said they want to live in the suburbs, but 33 percent of suburbanites are now interested in someday moving to the city.