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Bay area 'driven to spend' on housing, transportation

A new study describes the Tampa Bay area as the least affordable large metro area in the nation.

By STEVE THOMPSON
Published June 14, 2005


The Tampa Bay area is the least affordable large metro area in the nation based on the cost of housing and getting around, according to a study released Tuesday.

An average of 57.7 percent of household expenditures here goes toward housing and transportation, the study says. That leaves less for things like retirement savings, health care and college funds.

Miami area households came in next, spending 57.5 percent. San Diego households came in No. 3, Atlanta No. 4.

Pittsburgh households, the study says, spend least on transportation and housing: 45.8 percent.

The study, "Driven to Spend," focuses on transportation costs. It says Tampa Bay residents spend 20.4 percent of household budgets just getting around. That's the fourth highest percentage among the nation's most populous metro areas.

But combine the transportation costs with housing costs, and the Tampa Bay area climbs to No. 1, says the report. It was produced by the two nonprofit think tanks, the Surface Transportation Policy Project in Washington, D.C. and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, based in Chicago.

The study comes days after the Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organization board voted to support a $1.5-billion plan to build 38 miles of elevated monorail and create a series of buses and trolleys to support it.

In Hillsborough County, a light rail proposal was essentially killed earlier this year after federal officials declined to help fund it.

Driven to Spend uses statistics from 2002 and 2003. Its authors note that recent rises in gas prices have only made things worse for the metro areas, such as Tampa Bay, that rely most heavily on cars.

The study uses U.S. Department of Labor statistics, which say the average Tampa Bay household spends $7,291 on transportation each year:

$3,546 for vehicle purchases;

$1,142 for gasoline and motor oil;

$2,407 for other vehicle expenses;

$196 for public transportation.

Tampa Bay households spend less on public transportation than any of the metro areas studied. The U.S. average was $494. New Yorkers spend $1,042.

For a copy of the report, go to www.transact.org

[Last modified June 14, 2005, 20:01:25]


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