Why we need both a hike in the gas tax and more tolls

Sean Roche makes the case for charging more per gallon and for smart tolls, which he defines as charging people more at rush hour.

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Smart Tolls not that smart

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I love how people instantly assume that most drivers are driving down I-90/95/93 during peak times because they *want* to be there. People drive during rush hour because they have no choice. Their jobs start at a certain time and they need to be there. Charging them more for this just adds insult to injury.

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Yes and No

SmartTolls only work if you are attempting to push drivers toward, say, public transit use. That only works if it is feasible to use public transit, which isn't the case if you are driving from, say, Reading to Bedford or Andover to Waltham.

Such a toll scheme is simply opportunistic and punitive if there is no alternative to escape to, unless the goal is to pay for added costs of driving at rush hour versus other times or create the financing for public transit corridors.

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Peak tolling is not fair if

Peak tolling is not fair if its done during commuting hours, which is the only time it makes sense. Although I could get on board with charging tolls to drivers heading to Cape Cod for the weekend, increasing the cost as peak time comes. You dont have to visit the cape every weekend in the summer, you do have to go to work when the boss tell you to...

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Impetous to change

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I think the idea is to give people a financial incentive to change their habits. If enough people do so, it helps everyone: fast commute for those who shift, reduced traffic for those who can't shift, less pollution for everyone from idling traffic, more money for public coffers. Not everyone has the flexibility to change their hours, but some do.

Just as people changed their habits when the price of gas went up, they will change their habits if there are higher tolls at peak times.

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tolls on a few roads are not equitable means of cost allocation

Tolls on the Mass Pike were established to pay the bonds that financed the construction. That's a resonable policy.

If the Commonwealth decides to allocate costs of Mass Pike maintenance to Mass Pike users, then keep the tolls after the bonds are paid. Otherwise, dump them, but for God sakes, hire enough toll takers.

The same could be true for 93S, 3S from NH to Boston, and for 93N and 3N from south of Boston but tolls add delays as well as and administrative overhead.

Taxing gasoline seems like a much more equitable means of raising revenue to cover costs. If you want to be fair about it, one part of the tax would go to the state and another to the local municpaility to cover local raod repair including bridges, plowing, salting and sanding.

The problem occurs when Congress passes cap and trade and gas prices increase another 40%.

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And I quote:

"If cars and trucks need more and better roads and bridges, then it should fall more directly on car and truck drivers to pay for them. "

EXACTLY! Drivers who use roads and bridges already help maintain roads in the form of an annual excise tax. If our roads (many of which were built under the Eisenhower administration) need more maintenance and they want to raise the gas tax to do it then so be it. Personally I'm a little sick of playing "dodge the pothole" every time I leave my driveway.

HOWEVER, if people who drive should be responsible for road maintenance then people who take the T should be responsible for subway and rail maintenance. It's absurd to shoulder the financial burden of the T on people who live in areas where the T is inaccessible (eg: anyone outside of greater Boston) or people who live inside the T lines who never/rarely use it. If it costs more than $1.70 to transport someone from Alewife to South Station then charge more than a $1.70. It's completely unfair and borderline criminal to ask someone from Springfield to pony up in the form of a higher gas tax to financially support a subway that they don't have an opportunity to ride.

I'm all for dismantling the Turnpike Authority, even if it means that I may pay more at the pump. Assuming the money goes to road maintenance (haha, dare to dream) I'll save money in tires and alignments.

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Not True!

Drivers who use roads and bridges already help maintain roads in the form of an annual excise tax.

I don't know how it works in your town or city, but my excise tax payment is sent to the city and goes primarily to the school department.

From the Town of Dighton website:

The excise is levied by the city or town where the vehicle is principally garaged and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.

If it was a "user tax", which it is not, it should be per mile. But it is a property tax to be paid whether or not the vehicle is actually used.

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South Shore

I'm pretty sure that where I live at least part of my excise tax goes for road maintenance. Even so, as a I driver I still pay:

1. Tolls where applicable
2. Registration Fees
3. License Fees
4. Excise Tax
5. Gas Tax (and it's going up! Oh happy days!)
6. Vehicle Sales Tax
7. Inspection Fees
8. Meters

Some of these may go to the city or state, some may just pay for beaurocratic overhead.

There's light at the end the tunnel, though: winter is coming which means that the snow will fill in most of those potholes I've worked so hard to avoid.

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You know what?

As a part-owner of a vehicle, I pay all those too! Even though we only drive 8-10,000 miles a year, we pay roughly the same (except for the Gas Tax cost) as you do to keep our car on the road.

Why is fair that we use the roads much less, do not participate in the daily critical mass drive known as the rush hour traffic jam, and still pay just as much?

Consider this: driving is a heavily subsidized activity. I have posted references for this before. I find it amusing, now that I understand it, that any driver would complain about the costs because that is simply asking for an honest accounting and apportionment of the actual costs of roadway maintenance, building, and operation.

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Gas Tax

My company is located in Stamford so unless I'm visiting clients my daily commute consists of moving from my kitchen coffee maker to my computer. At my previous job I drove about 35,000 miles a year and went through Jettas like nobody's business. I paid more for that priveledge through the gas tax and vehicle sales tax.

I agree that driving is a heavily subsidized activity; so is taking the T. I'm just arguing that if the state is going to raise the gas tax then that money should pay for road maintenance and not be earmarked for other endeavors (such as the MBTA). On the flip side, I wouldn't advocate that the T raise fares in order to pay for widening 128.

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You make an excellent point.

You make an excellent point. We may be collecting ample taxes to support costs associated with automobile transportation but we spend much of it on education, instead and so have no money to fix potholes and bridges.

When the top marginal rate was 70%, fiscal conservatives had good cause to want change. Now the top marginal rate is 36% soon to be 39%. It's hard to take their complaints as anything more than greed... plus they demonstrated their own hypocrasy by spending like crazy (Iraq war, bailout bill) and putting it all on the national credit card.That's not fiscally conservative. It's reckless and irresponsible.

A comparison of revenue sources and costs in the town budget would show us the answer about what taxes cover the costs for which they were intended.

For the record, there is a strong public interest funding public transportation as an alternative to automobile commutes, although the entire suburban infrastructure is built for a car in every driveway.

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You want subsidized travel?

You want subsidized travel? Ever fly? The air traffic control system is paid for by taxpayers, not passengers. If passengers had to pay the full cost of flying, the entire system would just about shut down due to high cost. Sound good? We'd go back to the immediate post-war years, with only businessmen and the wealthy flying. No more tourism.

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It is all subsidized

I agree that flying is heavily subsidized. My point is that driving is quite heavily subsized as well, but most people don't understand the true magnitude of that subsidy.

Infrastructure demands subsidy and large-scale administration. That is a given. What I dislike is the amount of whining that solo drivers do about the cost of driving - especially when that whining portrays public transit users as somehow being subsidized by drivers (when the cash flow via federal income taxes flows massively in the other direction)! Modest estimates put the "true" cost of driving infrastructre to be equivalent to a $3.50/gallon gas tax if drivers paid for it that way. Source When you consider what people in other countries pay for gas taxes to support the roadway infrastructure, this sounds about right.

If subsidies completely disappeared and we all paid directly according to the mode we used, it isn't the public transit users who would be hurting most. It is the airlines and the highway systems that would collapse first.

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Walking is subsidized

Walking is subsidized heavily. Most people who walk dont pay ANYTHING into the system, except for those states that charge taxes on clothing. Every sidewalk, walkway, crosswalk ect you come across was paid out of another fund, and you will never find a toll on a sidewalk... Everything is expensive.

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I know of a sidewalk toll

There was a sidewalk toll on the bridge that goes from the Freeport area to the main area of the Grand Bahama island. It is a long bridge and a beautiful walk over beautiful tropical water that is teal green-blue. Whatever it did cost, it was worth it.

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Taxes & Tolls

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Nothing says "Live in Mass!" like hiking taxes and tolls.

Cya! Moving out of here ASAP.

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Good Riddance

One fewer person whose afraid to make their self known to have to concern ourselves with.

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re: Riddance

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Does it make you feel like a big man when you deny the claims of people who value privacy because of their views and not their claims?

How incredibly rational. Enjoy your attacks. As if my identity matters.

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What I thought

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I thought you were leaving.

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Yes.

 

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