David Shipler briefly mentions in The Working Poor that lack of access to a car is one of the factors
that make finding and holding a job difficult. A person in need of a job may be unable to afford a car,
since car ownership is so expensive, but they may need a car because of urban sprawl and inadequate
public transit networks. But just how serious is the burden of car ownership, and how exactly does
under funded public transit and urban sprawl contribute to the need to take on this burden?
The costs of car ownership concern motorists greatly, so it isn't difficult to find information.
AAA releases an annual brochure and report called "Your Driving Costs." Their 2004 brochure
reports a composite national average cost of 56.1 cents per mile over 15,000 miles of driving
annually. This amounts to an annual cost of $8,415. Americans spend more of their income on their
cars than they do on anything else except for shelter. A reliable car that has been paid for in full may
cost $4,000 annually, but the upfront cost of a car is still great, and few Americans can afford to buy
a car outright. This picture is complicated by the fact that few low-income families are able to afford
a new car, which reduces the cost of financing, but these families are also likely to have poor credit
which has the opposite effect. The used cars that they buy are also likely to be less reliable than the
average, which increases repair costs. Clearly, owning a car is a huge financial burden. Why take it
The problem is an urban and suburban infrastructure designed to accommodate cars at the
expense of non-automotive mc and a lack of well-designed, well-funded public transit services. In
... middle of paper ...
Amherst. 26 Feb 2006
Ewing, et al. Measuring Sprawl and its Impact. 2002. Smart Growth America. 10 April
Oppenheimer, Laura. "Portland, Ore., Ranks Among Least Sprawling Communities in Country."
Knight Ridder Tribune Business News. 18 October 2002. ABI/INFORM Dateline. ProQuest. Univ
Mass Amherst. 26 February 2006
Shipler, David K. The Working Poor: Invisible in America. 2004. New York: Vintage-Random, 2005.
Sinha, Kumares C. "Sustainability and Urban Public Transportation." Journal of Transportation
Engineering 129.4 (Jul-Aug 2003): 331(11). Academic Search Premier. EBSCO Host. Univ Mass
Amherst. 26 February 2006
Your Driving Costs. 2006. AAA Exchange. 26 February 2006.
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