The transportation team at the California Public Interest Research Group (a staunch supporter of Metro’s 30/10 plan) has issued an interesting report that attempts to debunk the oft-cited notion that highway’s are fully paid for by user fees, such as gas taxes and tolls. Contrary to conventional wisdom, their research illustrates that government has always used gas taxes for a variety of purposes, which have included public transit and general deficit reduction.
The report contends that this misconception has been used to justify putting more money into highway construction and expansion, at the expense of investment in public transit.
Above all, this report really points to the fact that the United States is profoundly under-investing in its infrastructure — as many other experts have said in recent years. The percentage of Gross Domestic Product spent on infrastructure in the U.S. is about two-thirds of what is was in the 1960s and about half of what Europe spends today — you know, that continent with the extensive high speed rail network and intra-urban transit. As this New York Times graph indicates, building the intestate highway system boosted investment in physical infrastructure, after which spending dropped off substantially.
In a time of constrained federal budgets and crumbling bridges, how would you find the money to keep up investing in transit?
Categories: Transportation News