The poll found nearly 70% of U.S. drivers would pay $5 on average to save 15 minutes on the road. Matthew Click is with the company that released the survey – HNTB Corporation, a firm that promotes infrastructure projects.
“You have a transponder in your car and all of the tolling is all electronic, you don’t stop, there’s no toll booths and you drive under a gantry and it reads your transponder and deducts that toll amount from a pre-paid toll account.”
The article continues:
But opponents say tolled lanes create a kind of class system on the road. Terry Preston is with the Environmental Council of Sacramento.
“If you’re wealthy enough you can zip on by traffic and just forego it all and this is odd on what’s supposed to be a public road. Public lanes ought to be available for everyone at the same pace.”
I’d rephrase Preston’s quote: “Public lanes ought to be available for everyone at the same slow, congested pace.” As Dennis Polhill and I have written:
Fuel taxes also promote traffic congestion, which wastes time and wealth. Rush hour occurs because the price for road use – fuel taxes – does not increase during peak-demand hours., Roads are underutilized during off-peak hours, which is also wasteful.
How bad is congestion? Around Denver and Aurora, the annual travel time delay per commuter was 45 hours, consuming 20 gallons of fuel, reports the Texas Transportation Institute. Without congestion, you could spend this time and money on what you value most.
“Preston says the way to handle traffic congestion is to invest in public transit…like light rail and buses,” says the article.
This is strange. Roads are funded by fuel taxes and other tax revenue. Terry Preston objects to toll roads, where people who pay extra – in addition to taxes they’ve already paid – can access a faster lane. Those who don’t can access the other lanes, which at times will be more congested.
Yet, Preston supports “public transit,” which is also funded, in part, by taxes. But here, the only people who can use the trains or buses are those who pay extra – not by paying a toll, but paying for tickets or passes. Why is this OK, but toll roads not?