Survey finds lack of consensus on funding road improvements
Sep 9, 2009 9:41 AM
Nearly seven in 10 (68%) would support adding high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes to existing highways to give drivers the option of using these less-congested lanes for a fee that can be adjusted based on the amount of traffic at any given time.
In fact, when asked how to pay for America’s roads and bridges in the future, publicly (35%) and privately (20%) run toll facilities, HOT lanes (33%) and other forms of congestion pricing (18%) received more support than an increase in the gas tax (16%) or other new user fees, such as a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax (14%).
Vehicle Miles Traveled is a relatively new concept being proposed as a potential long-term replacement for the gas tax. Many technical questions remain about how and when it might be implemented. Most likely, such a system would use odometer readings or satellite-based technology to measure how much each vehicle is driven and charge the owner accordingly.
However, if VMT were to use a device to record where and when someone drove for the purposes of charging a fee, 80% of Americans would be concerned about their privacy.
“Clearly more study and education is needed,” Yarossi said. “Practically every proposed system has privacy protections built in, and in many cases information about individual drivers would never leave the vehicle.” Currently the University of Iowa Public Policy Center is conducting a study for the US Department of Transportation to determine whether a mileage-based tax is viable. It is scheduled to be completed September 2010.
“What we cannot do is wait,” Yarossi said. “Fluctuating fuel prices and economic turmoil have accelerated changing driving habits.” According to HNTB’s latest survey, nearly three in four (73%) Americans are making efforts to conserve gas or drive less often in some way. Of the 77% who don’t own a hybrid or electric car but would consider it, an overwhelming 61% would be more likely to get one if they received a tax break or purchasing incentive.
HNTB’s America THINKS survey polled a random nationwide sample of 1,000 Americans between July 31 and Aug 7, 2009. It was conducted by Kelton Research, which used an e-mail invitation and online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total US population ages 18 and over. The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.
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