Cars eat up smaller incomes
When the automobile is used as the primary mode of mass transit, the poorest are hardest hit. In 2008, for instance, the poorest fifth of Americans spent 13 per cent of their income on gas. The top fifth spent 3 per cent. In Highway Robbery: Transportation, Racism and New Routes to Equity, Robert Bullard notes: “Those earning less than $14,000 per year, after taxes, spend approximately 40 per cent of their take-home pay on transportation expenditures. This compares to 22 per cent for families earning between $27,177 and $44,461 annually, and 13 per cent per year for families making more than $71,900 per year.”
Nearly three-quarters of U.S. households earning less than $15,000 a year own a car, and in an extreme example of auto dependence, tens of thousands of “mobile homeless” live in their vehicles.
The poor purchase cars because there is no other option in a society built to serve the needs of the automobile. If you want to work, you need a car. If you want to visit your friends, you need a car.