Archive for the ‘Gas Prices’ Category

Wright of Way

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright is possibly the most prolific and revered architect in all of American history. He pioneered revolutionary techniques and styles that are replicated countless times across the American architectural landscape. But did Wright build homes in location-efficient places? Today we will explore two of his most well-known works: The Fallingwater House in Stewart Township, Pennsylvania, and the Robie House in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Today these structures are museums rather than anyone’s home, but we were still curious to see what a typical family living there would pay for transportation. We at Abogo wouldn’t mind living in what must feel like a tree house. But what happens when we eventually have to step outside to work, shop, or meet up with friends? What kind of transportation costs would a typical family living in Fallingwater encounter?

The Fallingwater House, finished in 1937, is a revolutionary piece of organic architecture that integrates the structure of a man-made building with the brilliant resonance of its natural surroundings.

Architectural lore is that Wright designed the house in one sitting of less than three hours, which is remarkable given the international accreditation it has since received. Let’s take a look at the current monthly transportation costs a resident could expect.

Given an average gas price in the region of $3.50/gallon, transportation costs would average nearly $1,250/month. That’s more than a 20 percent increase in the cost in 2000.

This high monthly average is due to a number of factors, stemming from its location. The Fallingwater House was built as a rural weekend retreat, and to this day it remains in a very rural area. Stewart Township has a population density of only about 15 people per square mile and does not have public transit for the region. Walking and biking are certainly pleasant given the spectacular scenery; however, the nearest grocery store is over six miles away. Residents of Fallingwater and their neighbors may want to invest in fuel-efficient cars to keep transportation costs as low as possible.

The Robie House is a similarly revered work, completed by Wright in 1910. Located right next to the University of Chicago, it is a prime example of the Prairie Style of architecture. However, the building has faced the threat of demolition multiple times. One was so serious that a 90-year-old Wright visited the site to protest. Thankfully it is now a Chicago Landmark, which protects the building from demolition, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust maintains the building.

Let’s take a look at the transportation costs one could expect living in the Robie House.

Despite higher gas prices in Chicago, $794/month in transportation costs is markedly better than the cost of getting around if you lived in Fallingwater. The increase in transportation costs for Robie House over the past decade is a relatively modest 14 percent.

Chicago has a population density of 11,864 people per square mile, which provides both the resources and incentives for efficient public transit options. A 30-day pass on the CTA, which will take you anywhere in Chicago and even Evanston to the north, is only $86. Likewise, there are many businesses and amenities within a short distance, making walking and biking to destinations much more feasible. Having options other than the car makes average transportation costs less reliant on gas prices, keeping the average more stable over time.

What’s your favorite Frank Lloyd Wright home? Do you think transportation costs there are more similar to Fallingwater House or Robie House? Plug the address into Abogo and let us know what you find out!

Los Angeles Gas Prices: Tinseltown Transportation Costs

Monday, May 9th, 2011

***UPDATED*** We’ve added a comparison to Duarte, CA.

This week, we’ll take a look at a U.S. city known for its “car culture”—Los Angeles. As of Monday, May 9, the average cost of gas in Los Angeles is $4.29 a gallon, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. That is 40 cents higher than the corresponding week in 2008 ($3.89), the last time gas prices shot up and sent everyone scrambling for L.A. Metro transit passes.

How are rising gas prices affecting the typical Los Angeles household? Let’s take a look at three Los Angeles-area communities, Palms and Duarte in Los Angeles County, and Simi Valley in Ventura County.

For those living in walkable, transit connected areas, the price of gas has less of an impact. Take the neighborhood of Palms: for a typical Los Angeles family living at Overland Ave. & Palms Blvd., transportation would cost $722 a month. By having the option to substitute walking, biking, transit, and car sharing when they might otherwise get in their own vehicle, families living in this neighborhood can keep their budget under control.

Now let’s look at the other extreme.a community that doesn’t have so many options. Let’s take the same typical LA family and move them to Duarte, out along the Foothill freeway. With gas at $4.30, the same family would spend almost $200 more a month, with a transportation budget of $921. That’s $2,400 a year.

One thing you may notice is the difference in the cost increases the households experience living in these two different places. In Palms, the rise in prices means that the cost increases 15% over the cost in 2000. That may stretch the budget, but not like in Duarte, where the same increase in gas means the cost of transportation goes up 22%. Because the household in Palms lives in a walkable, transit connected place, they are better insulated from the shocks than the household in Duarte.

Now let’s look at another extreme, the exurban community of Simi Valley. Because Simi Valley is in a different Census Defined Metropolitan Statistical Area, we need to imagine a different family, a typical Ventura County household. Simi Valley is a suburb more than 40 miles northwest of central Los Angeles. Without access to transportation alternatives, the cost of driving is going to take a significant chunk out of a household’s budget. At $4.30 a gallon, transportation is going to cost a typical household over $1,100 per month.

What can Angelenos do to avoid feeling the crunch?

  • Take transit where possible and make sure their employers have signed up for pre-tax transit benefits. Pre-tax transit benefits are an underutilized “use it or lose it” federal and state tax break administered through employers. Employers can permit employees up to $230/month of their pretax income to pay for transit or vanpools.  In Los Angeles, county employees currently can save up to $940 a year for simply enrolling in the program through their companies. Check out Metro Commuter Benefits and the LA County Department of Human Resources page.
  • Curb your car and sign up for a local car sharing service. Americans spend an annual average of $8,776 to own, operate, and maintain a car, according to the AAA. Car sharing gets people where they need to go without worrying about gas prices. Members pay for cars by the hour, and gas is included in the hourly fee (as is insurance), so no need to worry about its price.

How are gas prices affecting your cost of transportation? What are your tips for getting out of the car? Let us know!

Chicago Gas Prices: $4.25 /Gallon is Second to None

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Last week we launched our Gas Slider, which allows you to discover how rising gas prices can affect the cost of transportation where you live. Over the next few months, we’re going to look at how communities across the country are coping with the rising cost of gas, and how choices in where and how you live determine how much you spend getting around. (Plus—this news is just too good to leave to the end of the post—use the code ‘ABOGO’ when you sign-up with I-GO Car Sharing to get $50 off the sign-up fee and $10 worth of credit!)

We decided to start in the city with the highest gas prices—and were unpleasantly surprised to find them right here at home in Chicago! As of Monday, April 25, the average cost of gas in Chicago is $4.25 a gallon, according to the US Energy Information Agency. That’s 50 cents higher than the corresponding week in 2008, the last time gas prices shot up and sent everyone scrambling for CTA passes.

How are rising gas prices affecting the typical Chicago household?

For those living in walkable, transit connected areas, the price of gas has less of an impact. Take Lakeview: for a typical Chicago family living at Roscoe & Lakewood, transportation would cost $761 a month, a 19% increase over 2000. By having the option to substitute walking, biking, transit, and car sharing when they might otherwise get in their own vehicle, families living in this neighborhood can keep their budget under control.

Now let’s look at the other extreme. Channel Lake is a far, far northern suburb. While you can enjoy the near-by Chain O’ Lakes Sate Park, the cost of transportation is going to take a significant chunk out of a household’s budget. At $4.25 a gallon, transportation is going to cost a typical household over $1300 per month—a whopping 29% increase over 2000 costs. Instability and unpredictability in how much a household spends on transportation can make it hard to make ends meet—like paying for that mortgage!

Now we know not everyone’s going to pack up and move in to the middle of the city. So let’s look at some suburbs that, while not sprouting sky scrapers like the Loop, have a walkable feel, access to transit, and allow residents to get out of the car! Take Bellwood, a Cook County suburb. That same typical family would spend $974 a month on transportation, a modest 19% increase over 2000 costs. While they’re feeling the pinch, they have the transportation options needed to get of the car—and out of the gas line.

What can Chicagoans do to avoid feeling the crunch?

  • Take transit where possible and make sure their employers have signed up for pre-tax transit benefits. Pre-tax transit benefits are an underutilized “use it or lose it” federal tax break administered through employers. Employees can save up to 40 percent on their commuting costs by buying transit fare before paying taxes. In Chicago, Cook County employers currently can receive up to $1,700 for simply enrolling their employees into the program. Check out http://lesstaxingcommute.com/
  • Curb your car and sign up for I-GO car sharing [link]. Americans spend an annual average of $8,776 to own, operate, and maintain their cars, according to the AAA. A typical member of I-GO ® Car Sharing spends roughly $2,520 per year on transportation. Car sharing gets people where they need to go without worrying about gas prices. Members pay for cars by the hour, and gas is included in the hourly fee (as is insurance), so no need to worry about its price. I-GO has cars that are gas sippers, and it will soon add 30+ electric cars to our fleet that don’t use gasoline at all. There are 10 other nonprofit car-sharing organizations across the country.

We feel so strongly that everyone reading this post should sign up for I-GO that we walked downstairs (they’re an affiliate of CNT) and asked for a special deal for you! Use Code ‘ABOGO’ when you sign up with I-GO and you’ll pay just $25 to sign up (saving $50) and get $10 in driving credit. Try it for a year, and re-sign for just $25! Sign-up today.

How are gas prices affecting your cost of transportation? What are your tips for getting out of the car? Let us know!


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