Think of it this way: a teenager cruising in a convertible down Pacific Coast Highway will probably be pretty big on smooth roads.
That's sort of the gist of a survey from the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium, which polled more than 1,500 people on their attitudes toward taxation, specifically as it relates to road improvements (get it here).

The 104-page study revealed that, in general, respondents from the West were the most supportive of taxes, while those from the Northeast were the least supportive. Additionally, those in the younger age group (here, 18-to-24-years-old) were the most in favor of either gas, sales or mileage taxes, while the 55-plus group was the least supportive.

What do they want the extra funds to be used for? 58 percent said they'd support a 10-cents-a-gallon tax increase if the money was used specifically for road maintenance, while just 20 percent supported such a tax for general transportation purposes. Additionally, a half-cent sales tax was more than twice as popular as either a 1 cent-per-mile mileage tax or a 10-cent-a-gallon gas tax.
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Would Americans Support Increased Taxes to Improve Highways, Streets, and Transit?

Mineta National Transit Research Consortium's free report gives results of an ongoing national survey.

SAN JOSE, Calif., June 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (transweb.sjsu.edu/mntrc) has released a peer-reviewed research report, What Do Americans Think about Federal Tax Options to Support Public Transit, Highways, and Local Streets and Roads? Results from Year 3 of a National Survey. The report was conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute. It summarizes the results of a national random-digit-dial public opinion poll that asked 1,519 respondents if they would support various tax options for raising federal transportation revenues. Special focus was placed on understanding what would motivate people to support increased revenues for public transit. The study authors were Asha Weinstein Agrawal, PhD, Hilary Nixon, PhD, and Vinay Murthy. The free 88-page report is available for download at transweb.sjsu.edu/project/1128.html

"Over several decades, the transportation revenues from state and federal fuel taxes have fallen significantly, especially in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars per mile traveled," said Dr. Agrawal. "At the same time, the transportation system requires critical and expensive upgrades. This dilemma means that the U.S. must dramatically lower its goals for system preservation and enhancement, or new revenues must be raised. If the latter is to happen, legislators must be convinced that increasing taxes or fees is politically feasible. When legislators decide whether to raise new revenues, they must consider likely public support for – or opposition to – raising different kinds of taxes. This report helps them understand public sentiment."

The survey results show that:

A majority of Americans would support higher taxes for transportation, but only under certain conditions. For example, a gas tax increase of 10 cents per gallon to improve road maintenance was supported by 58 percent of respondents. Support levels dropped to just 20 percent if revenues were to be used more generally to maintain and improve the transportation system:

For tax options where revenues were to be spent for undefined transportation purposes, support levels varied considerably by what kind of tax would be imposed, with a sales tax much more popular than either a gas tax increase or a new mileage tax.

American public opinion about the tax options tested has changed very little in the past two years. The 2012 survey found Americans about as willing to support tax increases for transportation as they were in 2010 and 2011.

With respect to public transit, the survey results from all three years show that most people want good public transit service in their state. However, the 2012 questions exploring different methods to raise new revenues to improve and expand public transit found relatively low levels of support for all of them.

Large minorities of respondents did not know that all levels of government – local, state, and federal – support public transit. The federal government was the least widely recognized source of support.

The researchers tested eleven specific tax options: variations on raising the federal gas tax rate and creating a new mileage tax, plus creating a new federal sales tax. Other questions probed various perceptions related to public transit, including knowledge and opinions about federal taxes to support transit.

In addition, the survey collected data on standard socio-demographic factors, travel behavior (public transit use, annual miles driven, and vehicle fuel efficiency), and attitudinal data about how respondents view the quality of their local transportation system and their priorities for government spending on transportation in their state. All of this information was used to assess support levels for the tax options among different population subgroups.

Because the survey was the third year of a project to assess how public support for federal transportation taxes may change over time, most of the questions were identical to those in the earlier surveys carried out in 2010 ( What Do Americans Think about Federal Transportation Tax Options? Results from a National Survey ) and 2011 ( What Do Americans Think about Federal Transportation Tax Options? Results from Year 2 of a National Survey ). This report compares the results of the three surveys to establish how public views may have shifted over the past years.

Free copies can be downloaded from transweb.sjsu.edu/project/1128.html

ABOUT THE INVESTIGATORS

Asha Weinstein Agrawal, PhD, is director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center and an associate professor and chair of urban and regional planning at San Jose State University. Her research and teaching interests in transportation policy and planning include transportation finance, pedestrian planning, and urban street design. She also works in the area of planning and transportation history. She has a BA from Harvard University in folklore and mythology, an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science in urban and regional planning, and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in city and regional planning. For a complete listing of her publications, see http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/weinstein.agrawal/.

Hilary Nixon, PhD, is an associate professor of urban and regional planning at San Jose State University. Her research and teaching interests in environmental planning and policy focus on the relationship between environmental attitudes and behavior, particularly with respect to waste management and linkages between transportation and the environment. She has a BA from the University of Rochester in environmental management and a PhD in planning, policy, and design from the University of California, Irvine.

Vinay Murthy is an independent researcher who has worked for several academic and nonprofit research programs, including the Survey + Policy Research Institute and the Urban Strategies Council. His research interests in transportation policy and planning include the relationships among transportation infrastructure, housing affordability, and local economic resiliency. He has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley in American studies and a Master of Urban Planning from San Jose State University.

ABOUT THE MINETA NATIONAL TRANSIT RESEARCH CONSORTIUM

The Mineta National Transit Research Consortium (MNTRC) is composed of nine university transportation centers led by the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. The Consortium was organized in January 2012 after winning a competition sponsored by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to create consortia tasked with "Delivering Solutions that Improve Public Transportation." MNTRC's goal is to expand and synergize each member university's unique abilities and expertise so they may respond as a group to any transit-related research needs. MNTRC conducts research to meet the US DOT strategic goals of safety, state of good repair, economic competitiveness, livable communities, and environmental sustainability. The partner universities are Bowling Green State University; Grand Valley State University; Howard University; Penn State University; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; San Jose State University; University of Detroit Mercy; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and University of Toledo.

Contact: Donna Maurillo
Communications Director
831-234-4009
donna.maurillo (at) sjsu.edu

SOURCE Mineta National Transit Research Consortium


Web Site: http://transweb.sjsu.edu/mntrc


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      But the Tea Party, Bribed by the Oil Industry doesn't support this. Try getting it through the House.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        You can do it on a state level if you wish. California sure as hell does it, lol.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          California is high but not the highest. And all the gas taxes in the USA are a joke compared to Europe. http://www.api.org/Oil-and-Natural-Gas-Overview/Industry-Economics/Fuel-Taxes.aspx
      Tony Miller
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Strong majority of Americans support higher gas tax"... That's about the most stupid libtard lie I have ever seen in print. Do the lefty crowd really believe this? Are they that ignorant? What is the unemployment rate among 18-24 year olds? I would ask to see supporting documentation, but your boy obama would claim executive privilege. What a crock of putrid green...
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tony Miller
        It is a shame that they never taught you to read or see things in anything other than black/white, left/right terms.
        Smurf
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tony Miller
        The stupidity of this post doesn't even warrant a real response. I'll save my real answers for someone who actually displays signs of intelligence....
      fred schumacher
      • 2 Years Ago
      Any week, the price of gas can vary by ten cents a gallon or more. A ten cent gas tax is a pittance. If you can't afford that, you can't afford a car.
        Mart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @fred schumacher
        Instead of revisiting this issue every few years, would it make more sense to make gasoline and diesel tax a percent (x%/gal--like a sales tax) rather than a fixed rate ($.12/gal--regardless of the gallon price being $2.50 or $5.00)?
      tyler
      • 2 Years Ago
      Do this on a state level. I live in North Carolina (9th highest gas tax in the country) and can't remember the last time I saw a pothole or a stretch of roadway covered with crack-sealing tar. Road maintenance is serious here (of course, the weather helps some). Keep roads in good condition and spend less keeping your car maintained (suspension components, fuel lost due to wheel misalignment, tire damage, worsened depreciation due to worn out components, etc). I'm not paying for potholes in Maine!!!
        Naturenut99
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tyler
        Your correct that keeping roads in good condition is very beneficial to our cars. If people could understand, that's it's not just about there being roads, having safe roads/bridges, or even trying to have nice comfortable drives... It's also about what rough roads do to our cars, the extra maintenance and extra gas use. General links... http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/04/road-work-ahead-report/ http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-10-01-bumpy-roads_x.htm But I think it's higher than they say. I have to have an alignment at least 2x yearly. At $0.5 per gal. avg. tax, 15,000 miles, 25 mpg. thats about $300 in gas taxes. Add the avg. yearly maintenance with not keeping the roads up... Thats $635~700 a year. We could up the gas tax and spend less on maintenance and it could still be cheaper than we currently spend. It's also not just about city roads. Country roads are just as bad if not worse. I've lived in Chicago and the country for at least a decade a piece and it's hard to say which is worse. Currently I'd have to say country... and I still go back and forth so I still do know what those roads are like there.
        Mart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tyler
        "I'm not paying for potholes in Maine!!!" tyler, You pay federal gas tax, and federal highways are maintained in Maine, so yes, you are. What if a semi fills up in Virginia and drives through North Carolina on its way to Georgia: How does your state recover maintenance fees from that driver on fuel tax?
      consumer 4100
      • 1 Year Ago
      Tha nation is showing what happens when you do NOT collect enough revenue to maintain the roadways. How many bridges need to collapse before this country wakes up? It's far time to collect our due from the wear and tear we ALL put to the highways..
      briang19
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've been hoping for a higher gas tax for years, and I'm not the kind of guy who likes more taxes, but it seems like a good way to finance projects. Better than more income tax, that's for sure.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @briang19
        Hey, i'm a libertarian and i agree! You have to pay for the roads somehow. Our infrastructure has gone to heck. It needs fixin'. Much better for the users of the road to pay for it directly, than to take money from other bits of income.
          Ford Future
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Infrastructure spending has the highest multiplier of any government spending, it creates more jobs then just the initial jobs. It also is an investment: better roads = better commerce.
          GoodCheer
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Spending on roads has all kinds of 'multiplier' spending, like spending on gasoline, oil changes, brake jobs, whole additional cars, more parking spaces, garages, car insurance....
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @briang19
        If the gas taxes actually were used to fix roads and bridges and other automotive uses, I'd be all for them. OTOH, if they're grabbed as general revenue to pay people not to work, no way!
          Naturenut99
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          2WM, As if that would be cheaper? HA.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          This is where you present an argument for privatizing roads... he he....
      Levine Levine
      • 2 Years Ago
      Another piece of propaganda from Madison Ave Spin doctors. Either government groups wants more money or the special interest, (the highway contractors, cough! cough! ) wants voters to approve more bonds or pay higher gas tax. These dubious polls are often used to sell the notion that the working-stiffs want to pay more taxes. What nonsense!
        Dave D
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        It's called magic Vlad. You sprinkle fairy dust on it, eat a rainbow, poops some butterflies and next thing you know: Poof! We have nice new roads and bridges for FREE!!!
        Vlad
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Levine Levine
        So true. Every reasonable person wants good roads and no taxes, and knows that it is totally going to happen. I mean, that's how world works, you get something for nothing every day.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am a big fan of user taxes (yes, yes, I know everyone benefits from roads..), but in this case I would want to see an accounting of all of the privious times they raised gas taxes to improve the roads, and why the roads aren't improved. Different cities and municipalities have different rates, but the roads seem...crumbly. I was just in Michigan and saw 30 cent variances and the roads where horrendous (Florida's roads were far superior). Again, if there is a good answer, I am cool with it, but wondering when they will be fixed. I have heard about the crumbling infrastructure since I was a kid, and no one, democrat or republican, high tax or low tax, seems to fix it. Sell it to me and no more bullsh*t.
      diffrunt
      • 2 Years Ago
      end the ethanol subsidy & higher taxes would be less needed.
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      Heres some food for thought: Apparently, the average tax on gasoline in the United States is 49.5 cents per gallon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_taxes_in_the_United_States If the average light duty vehicle gets 22.5 mpg, thats 2.2 cents per mile. If an average light duty BEV gets 2.5 miles per kwh, the tax on electricity for BEV use would need to be 5.5 cents per kwh.
        Mart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Dave, Should BEV drivers be exempt from road maintenance taxes (now collected as fuel taxes)? If not-- How can the government tax kwh for BEVs without taxing kwh for HVAC, lighting, computers and entertainment equipment, etc.? Can one tax for BEVs, another for CNG fueled vehicles, a third for hydrogen, and the current system of fuel taxes be equal and just? Would PHEV drivers have to pay double taxes, one for kwh and another for gallons? Is it equitable for drivers getting 50 mpg to pay half the amount of road tax that drivers getting 25 mpg pay, even if both vehicles weigh the same and travel the same distance? Should VW TDI drivers pay higher fuel taxes because heavy class 8 semis also burn diesel? (They do.) If we charge road maintenance taxes based on vehicle miles and weight, will citizens who have been accustomed to paying taxes weekly, in small amounts, accept paying taxes annually in one lump sum. How will mileage for taxation be reported? If one state collect mileage tax, how will the tax be distributed if the driver drives in multiple jurisdictions (some federal interstate, some city streets, perhaps across state lines, etc.).
          Dave
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Mart
          The simple answer is - BEVs should pay just as much road maintenance tax as ICE vehicles because they use the roads (and, in fact, are heavier than their ICE competition FWIW) But, obviously, that opens a pandora's box. Because collection is a problem. To create a level playing field, and to treat all vehicles equally, perhaps the best solution is to repeal all fuel taxes. Fuel tax is considered regressive because it hits the poor hardest, so this is not an unreasonable proposition. I doubt the issue will be considered seriously by the powers that be any time soon. And the status quo will remain.
        Dave
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        ......And, if the average light duty FCEV gets 50 miles per kg, the tax on hydrogen would need to be $1.10 per kg.
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