You might have read that Seattle transit users save an average of $8,400 annually compared to drivers. That’s according to a recent study that assumed transit users have one less car.
$8,400 is quite a figure! Is it true? Who knows, but the approach looks reasonable.
It’s good to think about this. We talk endlessly about housing costs and taxes, but personal transportation costs were hardly mentioned until gas hit $3. Even now, people aren’t necessarily connecting the dots: Transportation is a variable expense, and ditching the car (or using it less) can save you a bundle.
We often hear that 30 percent of income should be used to calculate housing affordabilty. But that assumes big transportation expenses. I’d argue that a combined figure for housing and transportation is a better metric. Perhaps a number like 45 percent is reasonable for both.
We Downtown residents often hear that we’re paying too much for housing. So we explain that many of us are actually pretty thrifty, all things considered. In fact, we often save far more than $8,400, because we ride in the free zone, or walk, rather than buying bus passes. We can even rent out our parking spaces.
That said, you don’t need to be in the center of town to make transit convenient. Any bus that goes past work probably goes past residential areas. Even if those areas cost a few hundred bucks more, maybe it’s worth it.
Now we just need more transit!