Thursday, 4 April 2013

New York Times asks what should revenue from tolls be spent on

The New York Times has published an interesting series of opinion pieces on the question of what to do with revenue from toll roads (apologies this was in October 2012, but still relevant).  

Sam Staley, who many will know, and who is associate director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University, proposed the discussion.  It is, in my view, one of the most neglected questions in this sector.

The motivation for the question is how there are discussions in Ohio about using toll road revenue to pay for highway projects unrelated to the toll roads, and the well known debate about using revenue from the Dulles Toll Road to cover half of the capital cost of a metro urban railway line.  

The views express should be read entirely, but in summary there is:

- Sam Staley.  Proposing that toll revenues should be used to maintain and enhance the tolled facilities, including new tolled lanes, rather than be seen as just another revenue source, as it is a form of direct user pricing and should reflect that.

- CW Marsella (consultant) . Proposes that toll revenues should pay for transit components of a corridor if that is part of the overall project that includes the toll road.

- Todd Litman (executive director, Victoria Transport Policy Institute). Proposes that some toll revenue be spent on public transit, suggesting that peak only congestion charging can be used for this.

Lexer Quamie  (policy counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights).  Says that toll roads are bad for the poor, who shouldn't have to pay for roads.  Public transit should be paid for from general taxes.

- Edward Rendell (former Pennsylvanian Governor).  Proposes tolls shouldn't be used for public transit, it should be subsidised by other revenues.

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