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Guest Post: Abogo Looks at Cleveland Gas Prices

Greater Ohio's partners are doing interesting things, and here is a recent write up from one of them.  Guest Post by Sahana Rao, Abogo Team, Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT). Abogo is a tool that helps you see how transportation affects the affordability and sustainability of places you live, might want to live, or are just curious about. Named using a combination of the words “abode” and “go,” Abogo is powered by the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s Housing + Transportation Affordability Index, which uses census information to show how housing and transportation costs change by area. Our Gas Slider helps you see how gas prices influence those transportation costs, so that you can get an even clearer picture of the cost of getting around a certain area right now and what that cost may be in the future. We’ve been using the Gas Slider to analyze transportation costs in various cities across the nation; for more on how you can use Abogo resources in your own hometown, visit our How it Works section or read our Do-It-Yourself blog post.

Cleveland, bounded to the north by Lake Erie (and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), is hailed as the “Comeback City” for its adaptability in the face of adversity. With an EIA-estimated average gas price of $3.62/gallon, how industriously do Clevelanders have to work to control their transportation costs?

Our first neighborhood is Conneaut, OH, just over an hour’s journey from Cleveland. Conneaut also lies adjacent to Lake Erie and, accordingly, boasts entertainments such as beaches, boating, and steelhead fishing.

How much do Conneaut residents have to shell out for transportation?

The average family living in Conneaut would pay $976 a month for transportation, which is 19% more than they would have paid in 2000. It looks like Conneaut has been more shielded from the effects of rising gas prices than most suburbs we’ve encountered, which could be due to the area’s walkable nature and the county transit system. However, since Conneaut is still relatively car-dependent, the monthly cost remains fairly high.

Does the same hold true for our next neighborhood? Buckeye-Shaker is a neighborhood on Cleveland’s East Side, a marriage between historic Buckeye and lively Shaker Square.

Let’s take a look at transportation costs for Buckeye-Shaker residents:

The average Buckeye-Shaker family would have to allot only $698 per month for transportation; however, that’s still 19% more than what they would have set aside for the same purpose in 2000. This just goes to show that, as much as walkability and transit connectivity help to alleviate the strain, no place is immune to gas price shock.

Fear not! You can lessen the blow of escalating gas prices by practicing alternative solutions and cost-saving tips for transportation. We’ve listed some helpful guidelines here:

Turn to transit: The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA, for short) provides bus, rail, and trolley service for (you guessed it!) the greater Cleveland area. The RTA also oversees the HealthLine, which offers rapid bus service on Euclid Avenue from Downtown to East Cleveland. Prove to yourself that transit makes a difference by calculating how much money you can save with RTA at Join The Ride. For those traveling out of Cuyahoga County, connections are available to several adjoining county transit systems.

Don’t bypass discounts: RTA runs a Commuter Advantage programs that assists employers in taking advantage of the Mass Transit Tax Benefit. If your employer is signed up, you will be able to pay for transit with pre-tax dollars, so make sure your employer is aware of the benefit! For more on the employer and employee savings afforded by this benefit, click here. There is also a universal U-pass for students; check if your school is a participating member of the program. Cleveland RTA may also offer discounts to those who are attending certain major events within the city.

Trade steering wheels for handlebars or sneakers when possible: According to NOACA, the number of Cuyahoga County bikers in 2010 was 50% greater than it had been four years earlier. It’s no wonder that biking is fast rising in popularity; after all, a bike gets infinity miles to the gallon! Clevelanders might even have access to a bike-share program in the near future. Get more information on biking in Cleveland at Cleveland Bikes and Ohio City Bicycle Co-op. You don’t consume gasoline (we hope), so we won’t assign an MPG value to your feet. We will, however, tell you that walking is just as efficient as biking in several parts of Cleveland. If you can’t bike or walk, consider using a car-share service like CityWheels.

If you are interested in learning more about how alternative transit options can help Cleveland become more economical and environmentally sustainable, we recommend CNT’s Broadening Urban Investment to Leverage Transit (BUILT) in Cleveland report.

Are gas prices affecting how you get around Cleveland? Let us know!

Founded in 1978, CNT is a Chicago-based think-and-do tank that works nationally to advance urban sustainability by researching, inventing and testing strategies that use resources more efficiently and equitably. Its programs focus on climate, energy, natural resources, transportation, and community development. Visit www.cnt.org for more information.