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Consumer spending on public and other transportation in metro areas before and during COVID-19

March 02, 2023

Consumer spending on public and other transportation rose sharply in 2021, after declining sharply in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Public and other transportation includes mass transit, buses, trains, airlines, taxis, boats, and school buses for which a fee is charged. Despite the increase in 2021, consumer spending on public and other transportation remained below the levels of 2019, the last year before the pandemic. Average annual expenditures varied widely in 2021 among eight selected metropolitan areas, ranging from $415 for the average consumer unit in Atlanta to $1,252 for the average consumer unit in New York.

Public and other transportation expenditures in selected metropolitan areas, 2019–21
Metropolitan area 2019 2020 2021

San Francisco

$2,092 $980 $600

New York

1,837 670 1,252

Washington D.C.

1,720 460 952

Boston

1,376 422 768

Philadelphia

1,115 322 585

Atlanta

1,024 217 415

Chicago

998 384 574

Dallas-Fort Worth

884 133 496

The average spending in 2021 across these eight selected metropolitan areas was $683. All eight metro areas have an established transit agency including local bus, light rail, subway, commuter rail, intercity travel, and at least one major airport.

These data are from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys. To learn more, see “Consumer Expenditures — 2021.” Consumer units are similar to households and consist of the household members who use their income to make joint expenditure decisions. To learn more about the data in this article, see our public use microdata for consumer expenditures.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Consumer spending on public and other transportation in metro areas before and during COVID-19 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2023/consumer-spending-on-public-and-other-transportation-in-metro-areas-before-and-during-covid-19.htm (visited June 25, 2024).

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