Monday, April 24, 2006

Location, Location, Location

I know I've strayed far from the Land of Blogitecture, but I recently came across a comparison of the transportation costs in major American cities, and I just had to share.
Here goes...

2003 Household Expenditures on Transportation by Metropolitan Area:
Rank | Metropolitan Area | Percent of Household Income Spent on Transportation

1 Houston 20.9%
2 Cleveland 20.5%
3 Detroit 20.5%
4 Tampa 20.4%
5 Kansas City 20.2%
6 Cincinnati 20.0%
7 Anchorage 19.9%
8 Dallas- Fort Worth 19.7%
9 Phoenix 19.6%
10 Miami 19.6%
11 Denver 19.2%
12 Seattle 19.0%
13 St. Louis 18.7%
14 Atlanta 18.7%
15 Los-Angeles 18.4%
16 San Diego 18.4%
17 Honolulu 18.0%
18 Boston 17.2%
19 Minneapolis- St. Paul 17.2%
20 Chicago 16.9%
21 Milwaukee 16.6%
22 San Francisco 16.6%
23 Pittsburgh 16.6%
24 Philadelphia 15.9%
25 Washington D.C. 15.4%
26 New York 15.4%
27 Portland 15.1%
28 Baltimore 14.0%
United States 19.1%
Source: Selected metropolitan statistical areas: Average annual expenditures and characteristics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2002-2003.

Two points I would like to make:

1. The cities at the top half of the list have relatively poor public transportation systems and also feature textbook examples of sprawling metropolitan suburbias that are dependent on extended automobile travel. The cities at the bottom half tend to have much better public transportation and have been built with much greater population densities and urban efficiencies. Although Baltimore at the bottom of the list is a bit of a mystery to me.

2. This study was conducted in 2002-2003, when the price of gasoline was at or below $2.00 a gallon. Since then, transportation costs have increased 50% or more, with no end in sight. Assuming wages haven't increased substantially (they haven't), and since the median household income is about $44,000 before taxes, then the median household cost of transportation has increased from $8,400 to $12,600 annually (assuming the percentages given are pre-tax income; if not, then reduce accordingly). If gas were to continue to rise, perhaps even straying into a temporary gasoline crisis with lines at gas stations and worse which might send gas prices over $5.00 per gallon for a period of time (BTW, that was the price of gas in the UK last summer), families in cities at the top of the list will suffer in ways only the experts might predict. Still, I'll give it a shot: How would you feel if nearly half your annual take-home pay went for the gasoline just to be able to earn that annual income?

Sorry for the continued gloom and doom, but our future lies before us.


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