Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Transportation Costs Drive Up Cost of Living

The Center for Neighborhood Technology, a national urban sustainability non-profit based in Chicago, released a study on Tuesday that shows that only 2 in 5 American communities are affordable for a typical household when transportation costs are factored in. They looked at 161,000 suburban neighborhoods in 337 metropolitan regions accounting for 80 percent of the county's population.

Scott Bernstein, the organization's president said many of the people living in the newer master-planned communities that are zoned for housing and nothing else must drive to get anywhere. In Pittsburgh, he said, only 1 out of five trips from a house are to commute for work. People in those communities must drive to get to schools, to religious institutions, to buy food and do other shopping. With the rising costs of gas, this is not a sustainable way to live.

Bernstein says one solution is to install more public transportation and to allow mixed-use development. According to their research, based on the housing costs alone, in the Pittsburgh area, 74 percent of neighborhoods are affordable. If you look at the sum of housing and transportation, the number falls to 33 percent. The most affordable places to live in the region are in the city of Pittsburgh and in the commuter suburbs immediately surrounding the city.

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