"A few years ago, the Center for Neighborhood Technology [CNT] gave a wonderful gift to urbanists and planners: the Housing + Transportation Index," writes Tanya Snyder. "This simple calculation clarified and popularized a key concept: that transportation costs must be taken into account in any measurement of 'affordability.'”
It turns out that the federal government was paying attention, and had some ideas of their own for improving the metric. Working with CNT, U.S. DOT and HUD developed a new version of H+T that they're calling the Location Affordability Index. "LAI differs from H+T in some key ways (here’s an infographic detailing those differences) but at its root, it gets at the same important question: Where is the best place to live without breaking the bank?"
"Transportation costs are paid in dribs and drabs — a tank of gas here, a bus fare there, a parking ticket, a taxi ride, an oil change," notes Snyder. "The LAI index helps quantify how those costs add up, and see if the transportation requirements of a particular geographic area render it unaffordable."