Driven to Spend

The average commuter in Houston spends over 20% of their annual household income on "getting to work," says a survey titled Driven to Spend: Pumping Dollars out of Our Households and Communities by the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). In other words, the average commuter in the Texas city spends more on getting to work than any other expense, including home ownership. Why? 94% of all workers in the Houston area drive to work, mostly from one of Houston’s rapidly growing suburban communities. In a given year, the partnership estimates the average Houstonian commuter spends 64 hours a year stuck in traffic jams. Cleveland, Detroit and Tampa were not far behind Houston. Key findings of Driven to Spend include: 1. Households in regions that have invested in public transportation reap financial benefits from having affordable transportation options, even as gasoline prices rise. 2. Low-income families are unduly impacted by higher transportation costs since transportation expenditures claim a higher percentage of their family budgets. 3. For the first time, the study analyzed the effects of gasoline price hikes and ranked areas by the jump in household expenditures due gas prices. From 2003-2004, Los Angeles area families paid $316 more per household for gasoline, with families in the Kansas City metro area paying $312 more for the second highest increase. The New York metro area posted the smallest increase at $220 per household.

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