USPIRG Report On Roads
NEW REPORT SLAYS THE MYTH THAT ROADS PAY FOR THEMSELVES
US. PIRG has released a definitive report entitled “Do Roads Pay for Themselves? Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding.”
The meticulously researched report clearly spells out that roads do not pay for themselves and why “user fees” aren’t really user fees. It confirms what many of us (including this Center) have been saying for years. The mantra that we invest in highways but subsidize mass transit is only half true. We subsidize both with non-“user” revenues!! In fact, the subsidies amount to 49% of highway costs, on par with major rail transit properties where subsidies for rail transit cover about 50% of operating costs. This document should be required reading for all members of Congress as they consider new transportation authorization legislation and contemplate ways to fund transportation infrastructure. As Center Director Bill Lind said in a recent interview with Grist’s Cities Editor Sarah Goodyear:
[T]here is a myth that has grown out of the libertarian camp – – libertarians and conservatives are often confused, but in fact they’re very different – – that somehow public transportation is subsidized and highways are not. Well, that’s nonsense. The latest Federal Highway Administration statistics show that user fees, including the gas tax, only cover 51 percent of the direct costs of highways. That’s not even looking at the vast indirect costs. And many rail – – not bus, but rail – – public transit systems are able to cover 50 percent and more of their expenses out of the fare box. Of course they’re all built with government money, mostly federal, more federal in the highways than transit. Highways get 80 percent federal; normally transit only gets 50 percent. So the picture that many conservatives have that it’s a matter of free enterprise versus subsidy couldn’t be more wrong.
The report, written by Tony Dutzik and Benjamin Davis, Frontier Group and Phineas Baxandall, U.S. PIRG Education Fund, can be found at http://www.uspirg.org/home/reports/report-archives/transportation/transportation2/do-roads-pay-for-themselves-setting-the-record-straight-on-transportation-funding. For further information, contact Dan Smith, Transportation Associate with U.S. PIRG, at (202) 546-9707.