More Bogus Statistics

There was a report from Forbes floating around this week that claimed Houston had the highest cost of commuting in the nation. The Antiplanner has a skeptical take on it.

But it is interesting that having more money to spend on travel is portrayed as a bad thing. “What really takes a beating is your wallet,” says Forbes. Of course Houstonians spend more: they have more to spend.

Houston is one of the nation’s most affordable housing markets. If families don’t have to spend half of their income on housing, they have more money to spend on travel, clothing, food, and other things. But no one writes dire articles saying “the cost of clothing in Houston eats up a huge percentage of household costs.”

Tory Gaddis at Houston Strategies also comments on this study today.

They note that Houstonians spend 20.9% of their annual household costs on getting to work. From that data point they make the leap that Houston is an expensive city to get around in. The problem is that a lot of those costs are completely voluntary. What do people do when they have a good income and cheap house? They buy a nice new SUV, truck, or luxury car to drive around in. These vehicles have high depreciation and fuel costs. But they chose to buy that vehicle for their commute and pay those costs. They could have just as easily bought a Honda Civic, Toyota Prius, or similar vehicle and cut their costs in half or more.

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