Keeping Transportation Costs to a Minimum

Ten years ago, a study from the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that the average American family spends 19.3 cents of every dollar in transportation costs. The numbers in the decade haven’t shifted much, but it’s interesting to see where those costs are higher and where they are lower.

Based on data collected between July of 2009 and June of 2010 regarding relative commuter costs – as measured by commute time, total miles traveled, hours delayed in traffic, the cost of gas and auto maintenance – the best and worst were as follows:

Best commutes ($343-$393/month on fuel and repairs)

  • Eugene, Oregon
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Toledo, Ohio
  • Laredo, Texas
  • Anchorage, Alaska

Eugene also ranked best in time spent commuting, with just 8 hours spent per month on commuting time.

Worst commutes ($491-$636/month on fuel and repairs)

  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Miami, Florida
  • Houston, Texas
  • San Jose, California
  • Dallas, Texas

Los Angeles, California came very close to this “worst” list by cost, and it topped all other cities with a 70 hours/month average commuting time.

All of which goes to show, there are few things as costly on the working American than what is spent, in dollars and time, in transport. But what choices do working people have?

Long term, the smartest, best solution is to live close to where you work. The ultimate winner in this is the telecommuter, the person who gets to work at home. Short of that, users of public transportation win – but that is largely practical in only the larger, hub-and-spoke cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Chicago and San Francisco. Athletic and fit workers are engaging in hybrid travel, using cars to drive to points where traffic builds, then switching to bicycling to cover the distance of heavy traffic.

When car repairs might force a commuting change

How did it get to this point, where a fifth of our income is spent on getting to and from the place where we earn that money? It evolved slowly, and like the frog in water coming to a slow boil on a stove, we didn’t notice it until it was too late.

Car repairs hit only occasionally, jolting us into considering the costs of automobiles. A thousand dollars here, another $1500 there – it can often be a wakeup call on the dilemma in which we find ourselves, where the car owns us.

Given how there is little chance of making a quick change, that car repair has to be done – and the mechanic is not going to release your car to you without paying for the repair in full. For cash-strapped working people, this is less of a problem than it may first appear. Anyone with a job is eligible for a payday loan. This is a way to borrow from your own next paycheck, getting the money in real time, when it is needed. Now with online payday loans, it doesn’t even require visiting a cash advance exchange – you simply sign on to the paycheck lender’s website and get your loan there. Money is wired into your checking account overnight so that cash is available by the following morning.

So regardless of whether your commute is ten minutes or ten hours per week, you can get fast cash from websites like those listed above.

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