American commuters spend an average of 27 minutes getting to work. For the typical nine-to-fiver, time spent commuting adds up to about four and a half hours a week and 18 hours a month. For the vast majority of commuters who are not walking or biking, it is not only the time that adds up but costs too — and in many parts of the country, transportation is the highest line-item expense in the typical adult’s monthly budget.
In addition to commuting, transportation expenses include travel for any purpose, such as quick trips to the grocery store or taking the subway downtown to catch a concert. Transportation costs can therefore include fuel, public transit fare, and the costs of automobile ownership such as maintenance and insurance. Distance and frequency of travel are also factors in the overall cost of transportation.
24/7 Wall St. identified the cities with the most expensive transportation by reviewing average monthly transportation costs for a single adult from the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator. EPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank. Across all U.S. metro areas, transportation costs for an individual vary considerably, from $435 a month to over $1,000 a month.
While there is a wide range in transportation costs nationwide, they are not usually the drivers of differences in overall cost of living. The cost of housing and childcare tend to vary much more, while in the vast majority of U.S. metro areas, the monthly average falls between $800 and $900.
The high costs of motor vehicle ownership account for most of a given city’s transportation costs. In metro areas with robust public transit infrastructure — which give many residents the option to not own a car — average monthly transit costs tend to be lower.