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Happy Belated Transportation Freedom Day, San Francisco!

10:40 AM PDT on March 31, 2009


I'm sorry I'm late.  You know how it is, if it's not in the Facebook calendar, I'm pretty much worthless at remembering.  

Similar to the premise behind Tax Freedom Day, on March 1st, the San Francisco Bay Area celebrated (did it?) Transportation Freedom Day, the day when an average household has worked enough to pay off its yearly transportation costs, according to data compiled by the non-profit Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT).  The analysis was completed for the Brookings Institute, as part of a project to develop the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index.

The San Francisco Bay Area is the first among metropolitan regions nationally to work off its transportation costs, followed by New York City on March 7th, and Washinton DC, Minneapolis, and Denver on March 10th (complete list, PDF).  Not surprisingly, regions with higher densities tend to pay off their costs sooner than less dense cities, though the correlation is not perfect, in part because the metric takes into account the quality of transit connectivity, job density, households per residential acre, household income and size, etc.  A complete methodology can be found here

CNT and Brookings have developed an interactive map that allows users to show housing and transportation costs relative to annual incomes accross a region.  While it does make sense that most of the urban areas along the BART spine would see transportation costs at 0 to 48 percent of income, I'm surprised Marin is so expensive, in part because I assumed higher incomes.

Picture_5.pngA screen shot of the housing and transportation costs as a percent of income in the Bay Area

This data comes on the heels of the findings by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) that San Franciscans could save $11,462 dollars on average if they ditched the ride for a transit pass, the third most savings of any city in the country (top twenty, PDF). 

With Walkscore finding San Francisco the most walkable city in the country, even ahead of New York City, there's good reason to celebrate car-free living here, especially if the weather keeps up like this. 

I propose a toast to celebrate our Transportation Freedom, San Francisco.  And sorry about the delay.  If you're really anxious to have the party you should have had on March 1st, we could join Stockton and Lodi.  They don't celebrate their freedom until this Friday.

Flickr photo: Kid Pinkers

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