Transportation Cost Burden

Transportation Spending by Income Quintile and Vehicles Available

Transportation cost burden measures the percentage of income that a household spends on transportation. The cost of transportation, the modes available, and the modes used affect the total households spend on transportation. This page looks at spending by whether the household owns or leases a vehicle or neither owns or leases a vehicle.

2021 Year-in-Review

  • The lowest income quintile spends the least on transportation primarily due to spending less on vehicle ownership and operation. This follows from fewer lower income quintile households owning or leasing a vehicle; nearly 30% have no vehicle and on average, lower income households own only one vehicle. In comparison, 6% and 4% of middle- and upper-income households, respectively, have no vehicle.
  • Transportation expenditures are lower across every income quintile for households with no vehicle than households who own or lease at least one vehicle.
  • Households in the largest income quintile spend the most on transportation regardless of whether they own a vehicle or lease a vehicle. However, when looking at spending on transportation as a percent of after-tax income, the largest income quintile spends the lowest percent.

Vehicle and No-Vehicle Households | Spending by Households with a Vehicle vs. No Vehicle

Vehicle and No-Vehicle Households

The top chart shows the average number of vehicles per household broken out by income quintile. The lowest income quintile owns and/or leases the fewest vehicles on average, while the highest income quintile owns and/or leases the most. The second chart shows the percent of households that do not own or lease a vehicle broken out by income quintile. It shows that the lowest income quintile has the largest percent of households with no vehicles and that percentage shrinks as income grows. 
Vehicle and Non-Vehicle Households | Spending by Households with a Vehicle vs. No Vehicle

Spending by Households with a Vehicle vs. No Vehicle

The chart on the left represents spending by households who do not own or lease a vehicle and the chart on the right shows spending by households that own or lease at least one vehicle. Use the drop down on the top left to change the view between transportation expenditure and transportation expenditure as a percent of income (before- or after-tax). 

U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Economic Trends, available at

Bureau of Transportation Statistics
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the preeminent source of statistics on commercial aviation, multimodal freight activity, and transportation economics, and provides context to decision makers and the public for understanding statistics on transportation.

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