CNT Marks “Transportation Freedom Day” in Chicago

transportation-freedom-dayOn March 5, Chicago residents celebrated Transportation Freedom Day, the date a typical area household has earned enough to cover its transportation costs for the year. To mark the occasion, CNT joined Illinois Public Interest Research Group (ILPIRG), Active Transportation Alliance, and Midwest High Speed Rail Association in calling upon the Governor Quinn and Mayor Daley to prioritize investment in transit. At a press conference at Union Station, CNT Research Director Linda Young stated “that families living in transit-rich neighborhoods can save up to $2,500 a year versus those living in dispersed communities with no access to transit.”

New findings released by ILPIRG show that a typical Chicago family shells out the equivalent of two months of their annual salary to pay for transportation costs, taking a bigger bite out of household budgets than even food or health care. CNT provided data to determine a communities’ Transportation Freedom Day, calculating the costs based on detailed census data on household expenses, including car ownership, maintenance, gas, parking and transit fares. This data is being used around the country by USPIRG as they hold various Transportation Freedom Days from Boston to Washington D.C. More about the methodoloy at CNT’s Housing + Transportation Affordability Index page.

The study found that access to high-quality public transportation is a primary factor in how much of Chicago-area residents’ income will be spent on transportation. Better access to buses and rail reduces the percentage of a household’s yearly budget dedicated to transportation expenses. Communities with greater access to transit celebrate Transportation Freedom Day sooner than communities with less transit choices.

“Transportation Freedom Day is a tangible symbol, based on hard data, that demonstrates the need for greater public investments in 21st Century transportation systems”, said Center for Neighborhood Technology President Scott Bernstein. “Households in Plainfield and Algonquin are spending, on average, almost $2,500 more annually on transportation than families in Chicago and Oak Park. When government makes the right kind of transportation investments, citizens save money.”

The American Public Transportation Association calculates that a driver in Chicago could save $10,491 annually just by switching to public transportation. Look at the list of top twenty cities that save the most money in transportation costs.

Want to know your Transportation Freedom Day? Download CNT’s map of 13 counties in the Chicago region showing the Transportation Freedom Days based on CNT’s data.

Read more about Transportation Freedom Day in the Press Release.
Find a list of Transportation Freedom Days around Chicagoland and comparisons between metropolitan areas across the U.S.