The latest transportation buzz traveling at the speed of the internet is about a new concept called Housing + Transportation cost. The idea simply is that the "affordability" of a house has historically been only based upon the mortgage of that house, whereas there are also certain transportation costs also associated with that particular location that also determine the affordability of that house.
While the affordability in dollar terms for actually living somewhere in terms of rent or mortgage are quite easy to determine the transportation costs are much more dependent on an individual's lifestyle and job location. Nonetheless, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) has been pursuing work in this area. Their first major tool is the Housing + Transportation (H+TSM) Index which estimates combined housing and transportation costs. Taking a look at the H+TSM of Pierce County, it can be seen that although quite a bit of the county is affordable in terms of home price, not much of it is affordable when the transportation costs are also factored in.
CNT has also recently come up with a new tool called Abogo that predicts monthly transportation expenses for places within most US metropolitan areas. The predicted expenses come from a number of variables obtained from the US Census Bureau and other sources.
And just today, WalkScore added these figures into a new tool called commute reports which provides information on what a commute from a particular location to a worksite might be like and how much it could cost based on the data from the H+TSM and Zillow or that which is inputted manually. This really is a must-use tool for all people searching for a new place to live.
Also, just released on WalkScore is their TransitScore which we'll cover in another post within the next few days.