The beginning of March means springtime showers, basketball betting pools, and “Transportation Freedom Days” across the country.
March 5 marked Transportation Freedom Day in the Chicago area (where my Sebring Convertible and I live). Transportation Freedom Day is the date a typical area household has earned enough to cover its transportation costs for the year.
Research from the Illinois Public Interest Research Group shows that a typical Chicago family forks over about two months of their annual salary to pay for transportation costs, taking up a bigger slice of the pie than food or health care.
The data to determine a communities’ Transportation Freedom Day comes from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a leader in statistically based analysis of transportation and housing. Costs are calculated based on detailed census data on household expenses, including car ownership, maintenance, gas, parking and transit fares.
Transportation Freedom Day in the Chicago area comes relatively soon (in early March) because of access to public transit systems. Even though I do have a car in Chicago, I spend less on gas because I take the Metra train to work, and I can easily walk to the CTA train and bus from my apartment.
Other cities with developed public transportation systems have early Transportation Freedom Days.
San Francisco (March 1)
NYC (March 7)
New York (March 10)
Boston (March 13)
Then you’ve got the cities that are highly car dependent pushed further back on the calendar with Tuscon, Ariz., on March 30; Tampa, Fla., on March 29; and Charlotte, N.C., on March 29.
I try to limit my transportation costs by taking the commuter train to work at least four days a week. According to Google Maps, it costs me $3.35 to take public transportation one way to work, versus $10.82 to drive to work. So if I take the train four days a week, I spend $70.08 a week, or $3644.16 a year, instead of $108.20 a week, or $5226.40 a year. I’ve just saved almost $2000. And I get to relax and read a magazine in the morning, instead of sitting in traffic.
What kinds of things do you do to limit your transportation costs?
Click here for a list of Transportation Freedom Days across the country.