Out of Control Policy Blog

Tolls, not taxes

That's what DC commuters say:

    A 2 to 1 majority of Washington area residents prefer tolls to taxes as a way to fund road construction, a view in line with that of transportation officials who are planning a regional network of pay-as-you-go highways, according to new local and national polls by The Washington Post.

    A majority of traffic-beleaguered residents also said they were willing to try new types of tolls to bypass congestion: 58 percent of respondents approved of the concept of allowing drivers with no passengers to pay a fee to use carpool lanes, compared with just 36 percent nationally.

Less clear was support for variable pricing:

    [L]ocal commuters were divided on whether to create adjustable-toll highways, while a majority polled nationally was opposed. The concept of allowing tolls to rise and fall according to traffic levels is critical to several projects in Maryland, including a planned east-west highway north of the Capital Beltway.

Real time pricing is key to reducing congestion, and other surveys have found that once they get to know the concept, commuters like variable pricing.

The results of a survey of those familiar with San Diego's HOT lane facility on the I-15 found

    that motorists with the most extensive experience with the FasTrak lanes were the most ardent supporters. Ninety-one percent of users supported having a time-saving option on I-15, and 66 percent of I-15 users who did not use the FasTrak lanes supported them. Moreover, I-15 users overwhelmingly supported the facility's expansion with HOT lanes, and tolling of new lanes was preferred over providing new free lanes.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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