Saturday, June 30, 2012

Considerable gap between transit and auto costs

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet: Percent of income spent on transportation
Cost of travel for transit-proximate and car-dependant households
Source of data: Taras Grescoe, citing Brookings Institute study
From Taras Grescoe, author of Straphanger (Times Books, 2012), comes this amazing statistic about the cost of travel in households that are near public transit versus those that rely upon cars:
“According to a Brookings Institution study, transit-proximate households in the United States devote only 9 percent of their income to transportation compared to 25 percent for the car dependent.”
Book cover: Straphanger by Taras Grescoe
Cover: Straphanger
by Taras Grescoe
The book has accompanied me during my bus commute each day. I used Microsoft Excel to create this chart, which visualizes the considerable gap between transportation costs.

Clearly, the cost of auto travel adds up and I need only compare the monthly cost of my Lake Transit pass -- $40 for the entire month -- and the cost to fill up the tank -- at least $40 a week.

Grescoe cites additional health benefits for relying upon public transit:
“Because every trip to a bus stop or subway station starts with a walk, transit users in the United States average 19 minutes of walking a day -- close to the 22 minutes a day recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control.”
Grescoe recommends the use of, which rates neighborhoods nationwide from 0, completely car-dependent, to 100 for a “Walker’s Paradise.”

My neighborhood, I was pleased to note, rates 75, very walkable.

Straphanger (388.4 GRESCOE) can be found through the combined catalog system of our Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma County libraries. An excerpt from the book’s introduction is published at

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