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How much does your commute cost?

Long commutes don't always mean higher costs, according to Bundle data.

By Janet Paskin Mar 4, 2010 1:24PM

Brotherly love or no, residents of Philadelphia spend almost twice as much time getting to and from work as people who live in Wichita, Kan., according to census data. The average commute times for folks who live in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., or any of California's major cities are at least a third longer than those of the good people in Omaha, Oklahoma City, or Lexington, Ky.


But do people with a short commute necessarily spend less on gas or car maintenance? 

Not according to, an MSN Money partner site that allows users to see how people like them spend money. In the five cities where people spend the most time commuting, according to the U.S. Census, spending on gas and car maintenance is consistently the same or lower than the national average.


The graphic below shows the commuting costs of residents of Boston, who spend a little more than 28 minutes commuting to work every day. But in an average month, Bostonians spend about $90 on gas -- less than half the national average -- and $170 on maintainance and repairs, compared with the average American's $277 budget. 


Meanwhile, in some cities with shorter commutes, spending on gas and car maintenance is much higher than average. In Wichita, residents spend just 16.5 minutes getting to work, but spend an average of $440 per month on gas and maintenance -- about $20 more than the national average. Oklahoma City workers travel for 17.8 minutes to reach work and spend $460 per month.

This, I suspect, is one case where time doesn't equal money. The commute times may be longer in cities like Philadelphia, New York, or D.C., but those are also cities with fairly well-developed mass transit systems -- trains, buses, subways -- which, while slower than driving, can be much cheaper.

But commuting via public transit -- even just a few days a week -- isn't a realistic option in many parts of the country, which is why saving money on gas and vehicle maintenance is such a hot topic on Bundle. A story about Greg Esser and his $1,800 Dodge Spirit extolled the virtues of a beater, while Angela is looking for a new mechanic, and bad news from Logan's car guy set her back $600

How much do you spend on gas and maintenance each month? How do you keep costs down? (And if you want to know if you're spending more -- or less -- than your neighbors, visit

Related reading from Bundle:

Editor's note: Janet Paskin is Bundle's managing editor. She will report back regularly to MSN Money about spending trends and how America spends and saves. She can be reached at

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