Funding transportation: Gas tax vs. tolls

Adam Tuss,

WASHINGTON – A new report says the easiest way to raise more money to fix crumbling roads and bridges and aging transit systems is to make drivers pay at the pump.

The report prepared for the Transportation Planning Board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments says indexing gas taxes to the rate of inflation is the best way to increase transportation revenues.

However, a report by transportation police group Cambridge Systematics says that’s the best solution for the short term.

In the long run, the report says the region will have to look toward transportation funding streams tied to how much drivers use the roads, not to how much gasoline they buy.

That could mean solutions like a vehicle miles traveled fee, where drivers would have to pay a tax per mile driven.

From the report:

“New financing mechanisms are important in view of the anticipated shift away from petroleum-based fuels. Broad-based user fees that are not dependent on fuel consumption but on the use of the system (will become necessary).”

Still, there remains the issue of actually implementing these policies and that won’t be easy.

“The greatest challenge to the region is the existence of multiple jurisdictions at several levels, each with its own tax base, tax structure, and tax policy,” the report says.

Would you be willing to pay more for gas if it improved your commute? What do you think about that idea of paying a travel fee? You’d pay more if you drive more. Post a comment in this story, comment on WTOP’s Facebook Page or use #WTOPTalkback on Twitter.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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