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“Transportation Freedom Day is an eye opener,” said Representative Buckley. “It shows the need for greater investments in more efficient ways to get around, such as public transit. When government makes the right kind of transportation investments, local residents are set to save money.”
Transportation consumes an astounding 17 percent of Americans’ annual expenditures, far more than they pay for food, clothing, entertainment, income taxes or even health care, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. New findings released by the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) show that a typical Ashland area household shells out even more: the equivalent of 28 percent of a typical annual salary, or just over $10,000, to pay for transportation costs. In more walkable communities with better transit systems, households typically spend less.
“People may not recognize how much they pay for transportation. Our research and these numbers show that we need long-term solutions that make it easier for Oregonians to drive less and to get around more efficiently,” said Lavelle.
Here in Oregon, Transportation Freedom Days in the region ranged from February 22nd in Portland’s Pearl District (i.e., 14% of income), compared to April 8th in more auto-dependent Talent (i.e., 27% of income). Averaged across our region as a whole, Transportation Freedom Day lands on Tuesday, April 14th.
The average American household spent more than $8,000 per year on its vehicles in 2008 according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Americans who live in areas with good access to public transit generally spend less on transportation than those who are fully dependent on cars. Residents in transit-friendly areas tend to attain “Transportation Freedom” earlier in the year. By highlighting these dates, OSPIRG seeks to raise awareness about how access to public transportation is a crucial for saving Americans money.
“Shortchanging public transportation is a classic case of being pennywise and pound foolish,” added Lavelle. “Now more than ever, public officials must make trains, buses, and pedestrian and bike infrastructure top priorities.”
Transportation Freedom Day is the day of the year in which a median-income household has earned enough money to pay for their transportation expenditures for the year. It is based on Census data which includes gas, repairs, parking, vehicle depreciation and transit fares.
For example, a median-income household living in Ashland’s Siskiyou-Hargadine District will work 89 days to cover their annual transportation bill. However, a typical household in the North Mountain Zone, with fewer public transit choices, could expect to work 102 days, or two weeks more, to cover their expected annual transportation costs.
Transportation Freedom Day data comes from the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago, which is a leader in statistically based analysis of transportation and housing. Transportation costs are controlled for differences of income, family size, and number of working individuals in a household. Transportation demand is modeled using the most recent census data, and costs are calculated to include car ownership, maintenance, gas, and transit fares. A detailed description of their transportation cost methodology can be found at: http://htaindex.cnt.org/model_summary .
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