Skip to comments.Professor and Transportation Finance Expert: Tolls “Inefficient, Regressive Tax”
Posted on 02/08/2019 11:12:45 PM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Professor of Finance for the College of Staten Island and Research Fellow at The University Transportation Research Center Johnathan Peters says if Connecticut lawmakers are looking to raise revenue for transportation, they might be better off looking somewhere else besides highway tolls.
Tolls, generally, are expensive to collect, Peters said in an interview. Its not free. Theres a lot of technology and a lot of equipment, and that equipment will have to be maintained and replaced over time.
Peters -- whose area of expertise and study involves regional planning and road and mass transit financing -- says tolls are more expensive to collect than the gasoline tax and is a regressive form of taxation that affects lower income individuals.
This is a regressive form of taxation. This can be very, very painful for a low-income household, Peters said. It could be the straw that breaks the camels back for the working poor.
Although 2019s tolls debate has just begun, it started out with a bang as the newly-elected Democratic senator from Greenwich, Alexandra Bergstein, filed the first bill authorizing the Connecticut Department of Transportation to install tolls on Connecticuts highways. Bergstein is also chairwoman of Connecticuts Transportation Committee.
The latest study from the CT DOT posited 82 tolls on nearly every Connecticut highway, combined with a pricing system offering discounts for in-state commuters.
The DOT study estimates the state could take in nearly $1 billion per year in toll revenue, after accounting for $100 million per year in operating costs, or about 10 percent of gross revenue.
Peters says this number seems a bit low, and that operating costs typically approach closer to 20 percent.
(Excerpt) Read more at yankeeinstitute.org ...
“Tolls, generally, are expensive to collect, Peters said in an interview. Its not free. Theres a lot of technology and a lot of equipment, and that equipment will have to be maintained and replaced over time.”
I agree. I despise toll roads. Providing highways is a basic function of state and federal government. They get plenty of taxes already. Government should suck it up and eliminate all the tolls. Problem solved!
It would be interesting to have the operating costs laid out for toll roads. I would bet that thirty-percent of all income goes toward daily operating cost.
Agreed. In this case CT has been so poorly run they would be instituting tolls on roads that haven’t had them for decades. For lots of communities, 95 is the only practical road between two places, such as many poor working Joes’ homes and work.
I live in a wealthy town in one such area, and the rich basically favor the tolls as a way to get the riffraff off the roads and cut down on traffic for their own convenience. Pretty disgusting.
Tolls keep out the rif raf.
Subsidies on roads and mass transportation are not only redistributive, they also make it difficult for people with property and manners to isolate themselves from bums and rabble; they are a blatant assault on the freedom of association, and tear the heart out of any hope of preserving civilization.
I’ve seen bus routes destroy nice neighborhoods in just a few years. Cheap car transportation is harder to see, but it is far more destructive.
So everyone pays their fair share and to a leftist, that is not fair.
I was part of the movement that got the tolls banned in the 80s. Tolls will not reduce congestion. If anything people will use side roads to avoid them clogging up roads like route 1.
Implementing tolls is an act of desperation by a dying, bankrupt, blue state.
I suppose those clustered close to 95 imagine more of the transient traffic will go on the Merritt, 84, 684, or whatever.
But yeah, a horrible solution. And CT is in a death spiral.
“... combined with a pricing system offering discounts for in-state commuters.”
I think one can make a Constitutional case that this should be illegal. If two vehicles cost the state the same amount of money to drive on a highway, then they should pay the same.
Tolls certainly have a way of keeping the unwashed masses off the roadways intended to be used by those that can afford the tolls. In Texas many of the tollways will not accept cash, so visitors from out of state have to avoid the tolls for lack of a toll tag. I have encountered this often.
I agree with you on regressive taxes but I cannot see how tolls are regressive, but the gas tax isn’t. For tolls, the so-called poor, will simply stay off the toll roads, and thus not pay anything. For the gas tax, they pay if they drive - that simple.
I live in a wealthy town in one such area, and the rich basically favor the tolls as a way to get the riffraff off the roads and cut down on traffic for their own convenience
Sounds like my brother-in-law - who voted for Obama twice and Clinton. He also favors $10 a gallon gas to get the great unwashed off the roads and give him plenty of room to drive his Lincoln.
The figure varies from city to city, but the analyses of such matters generally show well over 50 percent of the land area of modern cities is devoted to the automobile. The figure sometimes ranges much higher. (This includes streets and parking.) At the same time, congestion only gets worse. So yeah: let's accommodate another doubling of the population by doubling the area devoted to cars. Right. Brilliant move. Even WWI generals eventually learned that they couldn't overpower trenches and machine guns with massed infantry charges. I wish the commuter and trucking lobbies had as much capacity for insight.
I live in DC. The interstate highway system was designed when Washington's population was 7-800,000 and the automobile suburbs were still a gleam in the developers' eyes. Today the Combined Metropolitan Statistical Area (which is the measure that is relevant for transportation planning, especially for commuters) is nearly 10 million. People in the outer ring, if they commute into the core, can count on 2-3 hour commutes, which is no different from working in NYC and living in Connecticut, or the wilds of New Jersey, or way out on Long Island.
You can't build a sprawling megalopolis with more than ten times the population sharing the same road net and pretend the game hasn't changed. But that's exactly what the car lobby demands. More asphalt is their answer to every problem. And if they get their way, we'll continue to sacrifice livable inner ring neighborhoods with reasonable commutes to build congested commuter sewers for people who insist on living as far away as possible. Your front yard and quiet tree lined street? Sorry, we need another traffic lane. Your neighborhood park? Sorry, we need another access ramp. Your sidewalk? Sorry, we need every inch for traffic, and sidewalks are too expensive anyhow, a luxury that shouldn't be the responsibility of roadbuilders; if you want to cross the street in front of your house, get into your car and drive down to the nearest safe crossing. Your bikeable neighborhood street? Sorry, this must now become a high speed commuter road, and it's too expensive to build a pedestrian/bicycle overpass.
No more. That game is over. Sorry, car commuters. Move closer to your jobs. Or telecommute.
Yes, we should take care of existing infrastructure. But beyond that, we have to look to qualitative rather than quantitative improvements, at least in major metropolitan areas. (West Dogpatch can continue its love affair with the private automobile, at least for a while longer.) Smart roads are potentially a game changer. So will be the shift to fleet transportation and autonomous cars. The biggest change will be a shift to more mixed use neighborhoods with homes, jobs, retail, parks and other amenities integrated into human scale communities build around intermodal transportation options. A walkable/bikeable neighborhood with easily accessible mass transit really is a nice way to live in modern cities.
Lyft and Uber are important steps in this direction; there are now a growing number of cities where increasing numbers of people simply dispense with the private automobile in favor of ride sharing systems. Young people especially are open to this cultural change, since they already think life is an app and everything else is just impedimenta. The importance of this from a planning perspective is that it significantly reduces the amount of parking that is needed. Most cars spend most of their time parked, which is a huge waste of space in dense urban areas, where it is not unusual for a quarter or more of the total land area to be devoted to parking. That's where we can wring more efficiencies out of the existing infrastructure resources.
Put autonomous cars and smart highways together and we will buy a lot of flexibility. But none of it matters in the long run unless we stabilize population.
Help me understand: Tolls are set up so that the more you use the road the more you pay. So how is that Regressive?
Your ideas are good ones. The only problem I see with them is some of these “livable” neighborhoods closer to DC are infested with MS-13 and other ferals.
Gentrification prices the bad guys out pretty quickly. Yes, there is a transition period during which things can get a bit lively. The silver lining is that at least some liberals will get mugged by reality in the process. But soon enough, the neighborhood recycles. MS 13 can move out to the scraper homes being thrown up in the suburbs. Or go to Baltimore, which is still in the slum propagation business. DC has been the regional dumping ground long enough. Time for a change.
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