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Driven to Spend: A Transportation and Quality of Life Publication

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Abstract:

In 1998, personal and public expenditures on transportation reached almost $805 billion dollars - second only to shelter expenditures. The typical American household spent an average of $6,312 out-of-pocket per year on transportation in 1997 and 1998. In "Driven to Spend," the Surface Transportation Policy Project and the Center for Neighborhood Technology report that a major factor driving up transportation costs is sprawling development. This report contains detailed information about transportation costs in relation to residential location type and geographic location. Personal transportation costs are highest in sprawling places that use a highway-oriented transportation strategy, while areas with less sprawl and a variety of transportation options have significantly lower yearly transportation costs. Better transportation and growth policies could help families spend less on transportation and direct more money to investments that build wealth. Based on the data collected, the study provides five recommendations that distribute the responsibility to reduce transportation costs. The recommendations are as follows: (1) governments should invest in transportation choice; (2) developers should follow the principles of smart growth; (3) banks should offer location-efficient mortgages; (4) businesses and government should give people opportunities to save through driving less; and (5) federal, state, and local governments should collect and analyze better information about personal transportation costs.