Would You Pay Higher Taxes for Better Roads and Transit?

Would You Pay Higher Taxes for Better Roads and Transit?

A report from the Mineta Transportation Institute seems to indicate that some Americans are willing to support the federal transportation revenues though paying higher taxes. 

The report comes after a survey of 1,519 respondents, with questions that focus on the transportation infrastructure. These questions vary between raising the federal gas tax rate to creating a mileage tax and creating a new federal sales tax. Other questions explored the views of public transit, including knowledge and opinions about federal taxes to support transit.

The report found that many Americans would support higher taxes for transportation, but only with certain conditions. For example, a gas tax increase of 10 cents per gallon that would be used to improve road maintenance was supported by 58 percent of respondents. Support levels dropped to just 20 percent if revenues were to be used more generally to maintain and improve the transportation system.

In regards to using the taxes for less specific transportation purposes, support levels varied, with a sales tax much more popular than either a gas tax increase or a new mileage tax.

Its interesting that in general, the survey indicates that respondents all want better public transportation, but are not willing to pay increased taxes for improved services.

Also interesting is the discovery that those who supported many of the taxes was modestly higher among non-driving respondents, those who take public transit, drive a highly efficient vehicle, or placed a high priority on having the government improve various aspects of the transportation system in their state.

The report comes from a three-year project that was used to assess how public support for federal transportation taxes may change over time.

The survey results from all three years show that while support for a one-time gas tax increase can be low, support could be increased by modifying the way the tax is implemented or described. Using the revenue for purposes that are popular with the public, spreading out the increase over several years, and providing information about how much the increase will cost drivers annually will all help improve support for a gas-tax.