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Transportation energy is a significant household cost. Household vehicle fuel consumption—one part of transportation energy costs—varies geographically, and lower-income households generally face higher energy cost burdens. Researchers from Argonne conducted a study on affordability of household fuel costs that provides a more detailed understanding of the geographical variation in burden by connecting vehicles miles traveled, fuel economy, fuel costs, and income data at the census tract level. The study found transportation energy burden varies between 0.09% and 23.3%. While this variation is primarily attributable to household income (lower-income households spend a greater share of their budget on fuel), fuel efficiency is also a significant contributor, especially for low-income households.
The study’s baseline data and framework can help coordinators and others assess impacts of additional transportation costs (e.g., vehicle, maintenance, registration, insurance) or transportation policies on affordability for households at the census tract level. This information can help provide a foundation for equity-oriented transportation projects.
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