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Danny Katz,
CoPIRG Foundation

“Transportation Freedom Day” Highlights Transportation Costs for Residents

Residents in Cities with Transit Alternatives Pay Less

Denver – Over the next few weeks, residents in the Denver metro area will be able to celebrate Transportation Freedom Day, the date in which a typical household has earned enough to cover its annual transportation costs. For residents in some cities like Englewood, Aurora and Littleton, that day will come earlier than many of their neighbors in Brighton, Parker and Evergreen.

“The average person spends an astounding 17% of their income on transportation during the year,” said Danny Katz, Director of CoPIRG, the statewide consumer advocacy group that released the data. “The good news is that transportation costs can be lowered if a community is walkable, bikeable or has good access to public transit. Bottomline, access to car-alternatives to get around saves money.”

To highlight the differences in transportation costs per city, CoPIRG released data from the Center of Neighborhood Technology that calculated each city’s Transportation Freedom Day, which tends to arrive earlier for residents of cities with better car-alternatives. It is based on Census data including gas, repairs, parking, vehicle depreciation and transit fares and adjusts for differences in income across the region.

Here’s the Transportation Freedom Days for 26 cities in the Denver metro area:
* March 6th – City of Denver
* March 7th – City of Boulder
* March 9th – Englewood
* March 12th – Aurora
* March 13th – Lakewood, Littleton and Wheat Ridge
* March 14th – Golden, Northglenn, and Westminster
* March 15th – Arvada, Longmont, Louisville, Thornton and Superior
* March 16th – Commerce City and Lafayette
* March 17th – Broomfield, Highlands Ranch and Lone Tree
* March 19th – Brighton and Parker
* March 20th – Morrison
* March 23rd – Evergreen
* March 24th – Loveland
* March 25th – Erie
* March 26th – Fort Lupton

By highlighting these dates, CoPIRG seeks to raise awareness about how access to alternatives like public transportation is a crucial way for saving Americans money. According to Katz, only 68 days must pass before the income from a median-income household living in Englewood would cover their annual transportation bill, however, a typical household in more car-dependent Parker must pay the price and wait 78 days before their income covered expected annual transportation costs.

“People may not recognize how much they pay for transportation. Our research and these numbers show that we need long-term solutions that make it easier for Denver area residents to drive less and to get around more efficiently,” said Katz.

The average American household spent more than $8,000 per year on its vehicles in 2008 according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The findings illustrated in Transportation Freedom Day confirm other data showing that an individual in Denver switching from driving to public transportation in 2010 could expect to save $9,539 in 2010, according to the American Public Transit Association.

“Shortchanging public transportation is a classic case of being pennywise and pound foolish,” added Katz. “Now more than ever, public officials must make trains and buses a top priority.”

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Transportation Freedom Day data comes from the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago, which is a leader in statistically based analysis of transportation and housing. Transportation costs are controlled for differences of income, family size, and number of working individuals in a household. Transportation demand is modeled using the most recent census data, and costs are calculated to include car ownership, maintenance, gas, and transit fares. A detailed description of their transportation cost methodology can be found at: http://htaindex.cnt.org/model_summary .

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