National Commission Calls for Gas Tax Hike



National Commission Calls for Gas Tax Hike

A report released by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission calls for a significant federal gasoline tax increase of up to 40 cents implemented over 5 years.  On top of this, a number of states are considering their own gas tax hikes.  Would this finally be enough to reach the breaking point for most Americans?

The issue is highly contraversal and has already mobilized people on both sides of the issue.  In my opinion, even those that are supporting the tax hike are missing a fundamental point.  Often, the first words out of their mouth are that the hike is needed to fund increasing capacity in an effort to reduce congestion.  The phrase, “if you build, they will come” instantly comes to mind.  When is the nation going to wake up and realize it’s time to focus on building good mass transit systems?

The opponents largely claim that we don’t need an increase in gas tax, rather a reduction in spending.  What, are we going to reduce the amount of money spent on schools or health care?  Others claim that instead of gas tax, we should focus on toll based systems.  Great, apply tolls on the major highways and force the people who are too cheap to pay the tolls onto back roads that are now used by cyclists trying to avoid cars.

One notable proposal in the report is for an Intercity Passenger Rail program which would provide a stable, dedicated source of funding to improve and expand Amtrak service.  Just yesterday, I was out on a ride over lunch with a friend and we noticed works pulling up rail that passed under the Henderson Bridge at one point.  How ironic would it be if they were to turn around and lay that all back down in the next 10 years.

I suspect it will be a while before we see how this one shakes out.  No candidate in their right mind would openly support a gas tax hike heading into an election.


  • Jan 19, 2008 at 10:47 am

    The New York Times has an article about Pennsylvania's plan to make 311 miles of I-80 a toll road by 2010. The state is struggling to maintain roads and claims that gas taxes have just not kept up with inflation. They are hesitant to raise state gas taxes, with the Fed's talking about their own tax hike.

    It sure seems like the writing is on the wall, time for the US to wake up and seriously consider alternative transportation options.

  • Barry
    Jan 31, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I hope the bike communuty will help shift the national conversation a bit from "we don't want to pay for government" to lets invest in infrastructure, including aspects that help fight global climate change, promote heath, and enhance energy security. So that would include bike paths and bike facilities.

    As it is, even current programs are threatened by a revenue stream that is not even keeping up with inflation. At the last Transportation Advisory Committee meeting last week, the RIDOT rep indicated they would be coming in with a TIP amendment to make needed bridge repairs that would "wipe out" most of the rest of the program. Cuts to Right-Care threaten RIPTA with a budget deficit next year that likely will lead to fare increases and service cuts jsut when we need to expand transit. But the President, Governor, Congress, talk-shows etc are fixated on saying they are against taxes no matter what happens to the country.

    I have suggested indexing the RI gas tax to inflation at numerous forums. As it is now, the fixed amount per gallon doesn't rise with inflation, the same is true on the Federal level. so each year RIDOT and RIPTA thatd epend on this for funding lose purchasing power. RIDOT has borrowed from teh future to make it up, making future problems worse.

    It seems to me thepeople who run this country are have lost interest in making it better, focusing instead only on short term greed and power.