Happy Transportation Freedom Day!

3_16_10_tfd.jpg

One couldn’t ask for better weather for a holiday, so allow me a moment to wish all Angelenos reading this a Happy Transportation Freedom Day. This lovely day marks the point in the year where your average Los Angeles family has earned enough money to cover their transportation costs for the entire year. Remember what you were doing on New Year’s Eve? That seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it.

Of course, this is for the average L.A. family. Depending on your community, Transportation Freedom Day may have come early. The Koreatown community surrounding the Wilshire/Western transit hub celebrated their holiday on February 22. Santa Monica and Pasadena celebrated their’s last week. By contrast, some of the parts of the Southland that are farther flung such as Santa Clarita or Hacienda Heights won’t celebrate until sometime in April.

"Transportation Freedom Day is an eye opener," Erin Steva, Transportation Advocate for the California Public Interest Research Group. "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, citizens save a lot of money."

"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 Californians to drive less and to get around more efficiently," said Steva.

Nationwide, the average family spends seventeen percent of their budget on transportation.  For Angelenos that number is a somewhat higher twenty percent.  This suggests that greater investment is needed in "people powered" transportation and transit.  We all know that the Mayor has seized the banner for transit expansion by championing both Measure R and now "30 in 10."  Perhaps it’s also time to push the banner for safe walking and biking?

CALPIRG computes when Transportation Freedom Day is for various cities and smaller communities within these cities by taking the average income for the area and average transportation costs based on census data.  CALPIRG’s release can be found after the jump.

March
16th Marks
Transportation Freedom Day” for
Los Angeles

Residents Must Work
OVER TWO and a
HALF Months to Cover Annual Transportation Costs


Los
Angeles
, CAOn March 16th, residents celebrate Transportation Freedom Day, the date a typical area household has earned enough to
cover
its annual transportation costs.


Transportation Freedom Day is an eye opener,” Erin Steva,
Transportation Advocate. “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, citizens save a lot of money.”


Mayor Villaraigosa
reflected on transit’s role for
Los Angeles’ quality of life, and
its ability to move the city forward. "Public transit plays a vital
role in cities, relieving traffic congestion, improving air quality,
and providing access to jobs, shopping, health care, education, and
recreation. For Los Angeles, it’s no longer a
question of whether to build 12 new rail and bus projects, but when–
over 10 years or 30 years. My vision for making
Los Angeles more sustainable
includes dramatically expanding transit to connect communities and job
centers and ensure the vibrancy of our region."


Americans on average spend
an astounding 17 percent of their annual income on transportation, far
more
than they pay for food, clothing, entertainment, income taxes or even
health
care. New findings released by the California Public Interest Research
Group
(CALPIRG) show that a typical
Los Angeles household shells out the equivalent of
20 percent,
or approximately 75 days of a typical annual salary to pay for
transportation
costs. In more walkable communities and
better transit systems, households spend less. In
San Francisco, for instance, residents could expect
to spend the
equivalent of almost three fewer weeks of income to get around.


“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 Californians to
drive less
and to get around more efficiently,” said Steva.


Here in Los Angeles, Transportation Freedom Days in the region ranged from February 22nd
in parts
of bus and rail-serviced
Korea Town, near Wilshire and Western (i.e., 14%
of income) to April 2nd in more
auto-dependent
Hacienda
Heights
(i.e.,
25% of
income). In
Los Angeles and
surrounding areas such as
Long Beach, families spend from $6,105 to $11,450
on transportation costs alone
each year.


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, CALPIRG 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 Steva.
“Now more than ever, public officials must make trains and buses a top
priority.”


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 includes gas, repairs, parking, vehicle
depreciation
and transit fares.


For example, only 56 days
must pass before the income from a median-income household living in
San Francisco would cover their annual transportation
bill. However, a typical household that would
live
in car-dependent
Los Angeles could
expect to wait up to 75 days, equivalent to nearly three weeks of
additional
income before covering expected annual transportation costs.


The findings illustrated
in Transportation Freedom Day confirm other data showing that an
individual
switching from driving to public transportation in 2010 could expect to
save
$10,052 in 2010, according to the
American Public Transit Association.

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 .

Transportation Freedom Day logo and
further information at:
http://www.calpirg.org/issues/world-class-public-transit/transportationfreedomday

  • I sent an email to CALPIRG asking them where I would find the data for the Antelope Valley. I suspect Transportation Freedom Day for Lancaster and Palmdale is probably in June or July.

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