A recent Reason-Rupe Transportation Poll surveying over 1,000 Americans found that people would rather pay higher tolls than more gas taxes. With the federal gas tax currently at 18.4 cents a gallon, citizens have started to question how exactly the government is spending this revenue intended for highways and transit.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents accurately reflected this controversial concern through strongly opposing a raise in the gas tax. Additionally, fifty-eight percent expressed their opinion that Americans should be paying for new lanes, highways, and infrastructure improvements via toll revenue versus a tax increase.
Another mutual motivator in these numbers is the interest in time. Fifty-nine percent favored a new toll lane or road with the interest of spending their money to save their time. This also reveals the common interest and value associated with traffic avoidance. If people are going to pay more, they would rather see results by reducing their vehicle hassle.
Here is the comprehensive response for raising the federal gas tax:
- Strongly Favor 8%
- Somewhat Favor 11%
- Somewhat Oppose 21%
- Strongly Oppose 56%
- Don't Know/No Opinion 4%
- Total 100%
- Net Favor 19%
- Net Oppose 77%
For complete survey results, click here to open the Reason Rupe Public Opinion Survey.
A new senate bill is set to give the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) the power to increase tolls. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Michael Grimm introduced the bill early this month. If the Commuter Protection Act Bill passes, the DOT would have toll authority for the first time since 1987.
The bill is in response to Response to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's plan to:
- Raise tolls between the states from $8 to $15 by 2015.
- For cars with E-Z Pass, the toll will be raised from $8 to $12.50.
- Five-axle trucks that currently pay $40 dollars will have to pay as much as $125.
Rep. Grimm and Sen. Lautenberg noticed how unfair these tolls were and how misused the revenue from the tolls was. Congressional leaders said the legislation is needed to ensure toll revenue is spent on highway infrastructure needs.
Bill Graves, President and CEO of American Trucking Associations (ATA), said, "We applaud Rep. Grimm and Sen. Lautenberg for introducing this vital piece of legislation”. He continued, "Having seen the toll increase proposed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, they are acutely aware of the negative impact of allowing toll agencies unchecked power to raise tolls for whatever reason they want."
Before the DOT lost the ability to regulate tolls, it had the power to deem whether or not a toll was fair. If a toll was determined unfair, the Transportation Secretary could override such hikes and put more “reasonable” maximum tolls in place. The new bill looks to restore this power back to the DOT.