For most of us living in or near big cities, forking over money for a monthly transit pass is much more cost-effective than jumping in our cars every day. In fact, the latest consumer-spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that people spend, on average, more than $8,800 a year on car-related transportation costs, versus $661 a year for public transportation.
But exactly how affordable your subway, bus or commuter rail ride really is can vary drastically depending on where you live, according to a recent report from Mic, which crunched transit numbers for some of the country’s biggest cities using data provided by ValuePenguin.
To determine affordability, Mic looked at the annual cost of buying 30-day unlimited transit passes and calculated that as a percentage of each city’s median income. And it looks like good news for Californians (at least in some areas): Commuters in San Francisco pay $91 for a 30-day unlimited pass, equating to just 2.2% of median income. San Jose came in second, where the $70-per-month cost came out to 2.3% of median income.
So it looks like train delays, crowded subways and uncomfortable levels of passenger intimacy may ultimately be worth it if you live in the 10 big cities below:
1. San Francisco: $91 (2.2% of income)
2. San Jose: $70 (2.3%)
3. Boston: $84.50 (2.4%)
4. Austin, Texas: $41.25 (2.4%)
5. Seattle: $99 (2.8%)
6. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota: $76 (2.8%)
7. Chicago: $100 (2.9%)
8. San Antonio, Texas: $38 (2.9%)
9. Houston: $65 (3.1%)
10. Philadelphia: $91 (3.4%)
The two major cities whose percentages were way out of that affordability range were Los Angeles at 8.7%, and Miami-Fort Lauderdale at 7.4%. (New York was just out of top 10 reach at 3.5% of median income.)
It’s important to remember that these percentages are based on the median income in these cities, which will tend to be higher than in other parts of the country. (In fact, you need about $110,000 to live comfortably in San Francisco, at least by one estimate.) The big takeaway here is making sure that, ultimately, your transportation costs aren’t eating so much into your budget that your other goals are impacted by just getting to work each day. If you’re not sure how to put together a budget that balances your competing priorities, then consider using our One-Number Strategy to help you get started.