feature on dart rider stirs debate — plus some cool maps

Good morning, readers.

DART rider Alexander Grgurich, who regular sends good transit-related reading the bus blog‘s way, was himself featured in an editorial in the Sunday Des Moines Register as an example of one of the growing number of Greater Des Moines residents who choose to take the bus or ride their bike instead of driving a car. Click here to read “Transportation: A matter of choice” by Rox Laird.

If you dare venture into the online comments section, you’ll find a side debate about the costs of living in the suburbs versus living downtown, as Grgurich does. Any regular viewer of HGTV knows the sticker price of homes is generally lower in the suburbs than they are on homes closer to the city core. However, that doesn’t take into account the cost of transportation.

Into this debate comes the Center for Neighborhood Technology, which, together with the Center for Transit Oriented Development, developed a “Housing and Transportation Index” to quantify the effect of transportation costs on the affordability of housing choices. While their conclusions shouldn’t surprise anyone — generally, that housing costs go down, and transportation costs go up, the farther the locations are from urban centers — their data make great online maps.

Two places to play:

Here’s a screenshot from the former, showing residents’ average monthly transportation costs by location. (That’s your editor’s house in Windsor Heights, which according to this index enjoys lower than average transportation costs.)

And here are two screenshots from the latter, showing “affordable housing” in Central Iowa. The first shows housing costs alone as a percentage of income:

The second shows both housing and transportation costs as a percentage of income: