Madison hit an annual milestone Tuesday, according to the locally based public policy group WISPIRG. It was the day when the average resident finally made enough money to pay for his or her transportation costs for the year.
According to WISPIRG director Bruce Speight, the average Madison family spends $9,196 on transportation - more than the national average of about $8,000. He says people spend more on transportation than they do on food or entertainment.
WISPIRG marked what it called "transportation freedom day" with car-sharing group Community Car in a small gathering on Pinckney Street. On hand was Duncan Basson, a member of Community Car, who says he used to drive a 21-year-old station wagon. But when it died a year ago he thought, "Am I going to buy a new car or find something else to do?"
Basson uses a Community Car about once a week, and he vastly prefers it to owning his own car. "Before I had to think about repairs, gas and insurance. Now I don't worry about any of that," he says, adding, "I get to drive around in a cute Mini Cooper."
Sonya Newenhouse, founder and president of Community Car, says the group recently hit a milestone of 1,200 members. It has 18 cars.
WISPIRG's Speight says the high cost of transportation is an argument in favor of more mass transit options: "The more access we have to public transportation, the more money we save as consumers."