User Guide

Overview

The blue overview box gives a general introduction to the My Transportation Cost Calculator tool. After reading the overview, either click Continue or on the X in the upper right corner to close the text box. To see this overview again, select About from the My Transportation Cost Calculator dropdown menu.

Overview

Household Profile

Begin by entering a residential address and the map will zoom to that address. On the map, marker A represents the location of interest (i.e., residential address). Markers can be dragged around the map to update locations. Updating a location will change the housing and transportation cost estimates. If you want to delete a location, click on the X next to the address.

Overview

Next you will be asked to fill out the Household tab, which requires: household size, gross annual income, number of workers who commute, and whether your household owns or rents. After you have entered this information click Next to move to the next tab in the calculator.

Household Profile

The Housing tab asks you to enter your monthly housing costs, and provides an estimate of what a similar household in this neighborhood (block group) would spend. A similar household has the same household size, income, number of commuters, and housing ownership status as your household. If you do not know your monthly housing costs offhand, you can click on the calculator icon to add up the components. Notice that an estimate of your household’s housing and transportation costs appears above the profile box.

Calculating Housing Costs
Calculating Housing Costs

In the Vehicles section, you will enter the number of vehicles you own and the current gas price. The average number of vehicles owned and average monthly ownership costs for a similar household in this neighborhood is shown. These figures are also provided for a household with your profile and your housing costs. For each vehicle you own, enter the miles per gallon (MPG rating) and your monthly vehicle cost. The national average gas price is provided, as well as links to the US Department of Energy website to look up gas prices in your area and MPG ratings. If you choose not to use the estimates provided for monthly ownership costs, click on the calculator icon for help customizing this value.

Vehicles Ownership Costs

The monthly ownership cost calculator asks you to input costs such as insurance, depreciation/car payments, parking, etc. Enter either the cost of your monthly car payment OR use the tool to help calculate depreciation. To estimate depreciation you will need to know the model year of the car and purchase price.

Calculating Vehicle Ownership Costs

When you arrive at the Driving tab, average monthly miles driven for a similar household, and your household profile with housing costs, is shown. You may enter your monthly miles driven, or use the calculator to help you determine your monthly miles driven.

Vehicle Usage

Enter your workplace address followed by the number of days per week you drive there; you may enter more than one workplace. A small pin will appear on the map denoting your workplace. The work commute typically accounts for about 28% of total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and this standard is used to estimate total monthly VMT.

Calculating Vehicle Usage

There is also the option to customize non-commute VMT. Click on “Customize Your Non-Commute VMT” to expand the calculator. Non-commute VMT is broken into different types of trips (social and recreational; family/personal errands; shopping; and other). For each type of trip you can overwrite the VMT estimate. If you own more than one vehicle, there is also an option to split the percent of the time you use each vehicle for that type of trip; the default values assume that you drive each vehicle equally for non-commute trips.

Calculating Vehicle Usage

In the Transit Use section, you are asked to enter monthly transit costs. An estimate of costs for a comparable household in this location is provided. An estimate of monthly transit costs is also provided for a household with your profile and your housing and vehicle costs. Note that the map shows the location of transit stations. If you choose not to use the estimates provided, and would like assistance determining this cost, you can click on the calculator icon for help customizing this value. After you enter transit costs, click on the results button. Your housing and transportation costs will be displayed by clicking on the results button.

Transit Use

Results

Using the information you entered in the household profile section, annual housing and transportation costs for your household are estimated and compared to the modeled costs for a similar household in this location.

Results

The table titled Annual Household Costs illustrates total housing and transportation costs for your household and a similar household in the same neighborhood. Transportation costs are broken out by vehicle ownership cost, vehicle usage cost, and transit cost. You can change the chart to show monthly values, or costs as a percent of income.

Annual Household Costs Table

Clicking on an item in the left column under the heading Annual Household Costs highlights additional information about each cost component.

Annual Household Costs Table Help

Hovering over a number in the Similar Household or Your Household column also brings up a dialogue box.

Annual Household Costs Table Help

The Annual Household Costs graphs provide a visual comparison, showing combined annual housing and transportation costs for your household and a similar household in the same neighborhood.

Annual Household Costs Graph

Hovering over one of the bars will show the value, both in dollars and as a percentage of income.

You may view the Location Affordability Index for this address by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page. Inputs can be edited at any time by clicking on the profile links; doing so will recalculate results.

Location Affordability Link

Comparing Locations

The calculator also provides a feature to compare multiple addresses. To add another location simply scroll to the top and type a different address in the +Add search bar. A marker labeled B will appear on the map for the new location. For the new location, the information you entered previously is automatically used, but you can click on any of the tabs to edit them. However, you will not be required to go through all the steps again. You can compare as many locations as you would like. Additionally, you can re-enter the same address; the user-provided inputs carry over and can be edited to compare different scenarios at the same location.

Comparing Locations
Comparing Locations

Additional Resources

In addition to this user guide, an FAQ and Methodology for the My Transportation Cost Calculator are also available.