The folks at Front Seat – a Seattle company creating software for civic life – have launched three new extensions to their popular Walk Score website: a public transportation score, a commuting function, and a cost calculator that emphasizes the connections between where you live and what it costs to move between home and work.
The Transit Score is a nice addition to the walkability index: it’s based on the number, type, and frequency of transit service near your home (or business, or whatever address you put into it). Frankly, it seems like the transit component should already be included in the walk score algorithm, but then I suppose we’d be talking about the “General Mobility Score” or the “Getting You From Point A to Point B Score” and the whole concept becomes less focused.
The new commuting function is especially handy. Start with your generic Walk/Transit Score of the place you live, then add in the address of the place you work and voila: you’ve got estimates of how long different types of commutes (walk, bike, drive, ride) take, elevation changes between the two addresses (helpful for bike commuters), and an analysis of how much of your income is devoted to your home and transportation costs.
A holistic view of the cost of your home should include transportation, after all – except for you few telecommuting homesteaders (and boy do I envy you!) – you need to leave your house to get to work, school, the grocery store, the movies, and all the rest. Front Seat is emphasizing this linkage with the commuting report: the farther you live from all of the amenities you need to access, the more time and money you’ll spend on getting there and back again. At some point it hopefully becomes obvious that living in denser, more compact neighborhoods is less expensive on balance than living in sprawling developments far from where you earn a living. Walk Score can now help you figure out what makes financial as well as environmental sense.