I can’t take full credit for this idea. A few months ago, I talked with a friend of mine who is a transportation specialist. His name is Chris Bennett, and the idea is really his. I think it’s important enough that others ought to know about it.
As I drove to work this morning and I passed a pothole in the road, what he’d said to me suddenly clicked. The way to solve the congestion problem on our road, and also to get extra revenues that can be used to fix our roads and keep them in top shape, is to institute a tax on using the roads. The perfect place to do it is at the pump, and I’ll explain why.
The most consistent measure of figuring out how much uses the roads is by how much gasoline he/she consumes. Sure, some cars consume more gasoline than others, but that’s fine. A gasoline tax would encourage people to think more carefully about a car’s consumption before they purchase it. A gasoline tax is the only way to properly charge for mileage and for gross vehicle weight.
Everyone knows that in general, heavier cars consume more gas. They also wear out the roads faster, because of their weight. A gasoline tax would automatically separate the people who have lighter cars and consume less gas from those who own heavier cars and consume more fuel. It would not only encourage more responsible driving by making people plan out their trips in advance and considering their vehicles consumption, but it would also generate extra revenues for the upkeep and improvement of our roads.
Sure, you may say, the money will be generated, but how will it be divided among the local, state and federal government? They each are responsible for fixing their roads. Well, this would be done according to road usage studies on each of those types of roads. Roads that get used the most would get the most money to get fixed. All of the roads in a specific metro area would be grouped into light, medium and heavy usage. A percentage of the total revenues would then be divided among the appropriate parties that are responsible for the upkeep of those roads. Incidentally, this is why I think charging people for using the roads (having tollbooths on the roads) is a silly way to generate revenues. Instituting a gasoline tax is the fairest way to distribute the payment responsibility among all the “offenders” out there: us, the drivers.