Most Americans would support higher gas taxes - under certain conditions
First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com
A telephone survey by the California-based Mineta Transportation Institute found that the majority of Americans would support higher fuel taxes, but only if the revenue is invested in specific transportation improvements.
A gas fuel increase of 10 cents per gallon to improve road maintenance was supported by 71 per cent of respondents, whereas support levels dropped to just 31 per cent if the revenues were to be used more generally to maintain and improve the transportation system.
The survey findings have implications for current Congressional discussions about funding the transportation infrastructure.
Two proposed federal bills would raise gas tax rates. One would index the gas tax to inflation and create a bi-partisan, bi-cameral transportation commission that would provide long-term funding of the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). Another proposed bill would increase the fuel tax by five cents per year for three years. If either bill is to gain support, legislators must be confident that increases in transportation taxes and fees would be politically feasible.
“US policymakers face a dilemma,” said Dr Hilary Nixon, who was involved in conducting the survey. “Transportation revenues available from state and federal gas taxes have fallen significantly, especially in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars per mile travelled. At the same time, the transportation infrastructure requires critical and expensive system upgrades.”