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Study: Transportation a drag on Long Islanders

Wantagh, NY, Monday March 22, 2010: Looking eastbound

Wantagh, NY, Monday March 22, 2010: Looking eastbound at the traffic on Sunrise Hwy, Monday March 22, in Wantagh, NY Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Is the cost of getting around bringing you down on Long Island?

A nonprofit think tank called the Center for Neighborhood Technology says in a new report Wednesday that more areas of Long Island become "unaffordable" when you figure in the cost of transportation. In New York City, the reverse is true.

On Long Islanders - with an average 1.7 cars per household - long commutes to work, the insurance and fuel add up to transportation costs that many city dwellers don't face, the Chicago-based center said, noting that in New York City, jobs and shops can be just a walk or train ride away.

In its report, "Pennywise, Pound Fuelish," the center looked at 337 metro areas.

Center president Scott Bernstein said having low transportation costs can make the difference between paying the mortgage and being foreclosed.

"The majority of people who move farther out, chasing what they think is cheap housing, end up being fooled," he said.

Transportation is the second-biggest expense for many households and also the fastest-growing, the report said.

The center considers an area affordable if you can live there spending 45 percent of whatever the area's median income is - 30 percent for housing and 15 percent on transportation. Traditional affordability studies just set the limit at 30 percent of income for housing alone.

On the Island, 58 percent of communities were affordable in the index, compared with 62 percent under the traditional housing-only measure, the group said.

The city figures, which include some northern suburbs, were 51 percent under the center's index versus 49 percent under the traditional measure.

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