Management & Operations

Transportation second highest cost for U.S. families

Posted on August 8, 2003

A new report shows that transportation costs are second only to housing and greater than food and healthcare combined, with American families spending more than 19 cents out of every dollar earned on transportation. The report, titled Transportation Costs and the American Dream: Why a Lack of Transportation Choices Strains the Family Budget and Hinders Homeownership, authored by the Surface Transportation Policy Project, uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to rank metro areas according to the portion of household expenditures devoted to transportation. Transportation costs are highest in sprawling areas such as Tampa, Fla., Phoenix and Dallas, due to spread out development patterns, a lack of transportation choices and the absence of neighborhoods within walking distance of shops and schools. The report says that the nation's poorest families are especially hard hit, spending more than 40% of their take home pay just to get around. This number has risen 33% since 1992 and is making it more difficult for lower income families to afford housing, health care and other critical services. According to the report, shifting government priorities to increase public investment in public transit and improve existing assets to better accommodate more transportation choices can greatly reduce household costs of transportation. The full report is available online at

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