Tuesday, September 17, 2019

44% Increase in Spending on Public Transportation

Why is average household spending on public transportation going through the roof?

While overall household spending did not increase between 2017 and 2018, after adjusting for inflation, spending on public transportation climbed 12 percent and was one of the year's fastest-growing spending categories. That's not just a blip. Since 2010, average household spending on public transportation has climbed 44 percent, after adjusting for inflation—four times faster than the increase in overall household spending—making it one of the fastest-growing spending categories during the time period.

There are three reasons for the ongoing boom in spending on public transportation. One, the back-to-the-city movement has increased spending on mass transit. Two, the aging of the baby-boom generation has boosted travel spending. Three, the average household has more than tripled its spending on "taxi fares."

Percent change in average household spending on public transportation, 2010–2018
231% increase in spending on taxi fares
  73% increase in spending on ship fares
  68% increase in intercity train fares
  34% increase in spending on airline fares
  10% increase in spending on intercity bus fares
    8% increase in spending on intracity mass transit fares

Included in the "taxi fare" category is spending on ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of unpublished tables from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey

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