A national vehicle-miles-traveled fee?

News AASHTO Journal October 16, 2003
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Stating that "the federal motor-fuel tax is not keeping up with surface transportation needs," a new report by the group Reconn

Stating that "the federal motor-fuel tax is not keeping up with surface transportation needs," a new report by the group Reconnecting America suggests a variety of new approaches for transportation financing.


The report, Financing Intermodal Transportation, was written by transportation consultant William Ankner, a former director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. Ankner examines five different approaches to transportation finance, including:

* A value-added tax on cargo;


* A national vehicle-miles-traveled fee;


* A national vehicle registration fee;


* Tax credit bonds; or


* A shift away from modal funding to the income tax.

For incremental funding adjustments for intermodal connections, Ankner investigates gas-tax increases, expanded use of tolls and dedication of railroad fuel taxes to intermodal transportation.


The report makes a number of recommendations, beginning with retaining the premise that user fees equal user benefits. "Today, the beneficiaries of our transportation investments are the vitality of our national economy, the quality of our lives, transportation and resource efficiency and our collective mobility that is unprecedented in the world. If all benefit, then all should pay," the report states.


It adds that reauthorization of aviation and surface transportation programs provide an opportunity to redefine eligibility of existing funding sources in TEA-21 and AIR-21 to let them encompass intermodal projects. It further recommends expansion of public-private partnership opportunities to undertake large regional transportation projects.


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