Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Streams 101

Background Reading

Summary

Biking in L.A. Cyclists, cars and pedestrians at a busy intersection in West Los Angeles. October 10, 2013, 2:03 p.m. © LOS ANGELES TIMES

Biking in L.A.
Cyclists, cars and pedestrians at a busy intersection in West Los Angeles.
October 10, 2013, 2:03 p.m.
© LOS ANGELES TIMES

TakeAways

There is a struggle over who gets to control the large revenue stream known as the U.S. Highway Trust Fund. The fund has been around since the Eisenhower Administration. What was initially meant to pay for the upkeep of highways has slowly been dispersed to mass transit, bike trails and hiking trails all over the country.

The Conservatives want to have the resource allocated in a more targeted way to pay for the users of highways. Liberals want to contend that bicycles and mass transit along with pedestrians are equally needy.

Take the time to read the various articles and decide for yourself, just how much equity should be attributed to the various groups contending for it.

One thing is for certain, this problem has also been dealt with by the Europeans and in many cases they have higher contributions made by the private sectors than do we. What is clear is that the amount of money (the overall pool of taxes) available is shrinking.

What that will mean for mass transit users are high fares. The question is whether the various levels of government can keep the fares low enough to entice users away from their vehicles and the level of service high enough to attract bicyclists who believe it or not are in their own way a threat to mass transit. That is to say every person who does not use mass transit is contributing to the increase in fares.

The ideal structure would be that most people used mass transit and kept this somewhat expensive infrastructure system sustainable. Bicycles do not bring money directly into the coffers of a city as part of their usage.

Turning entire sections of the city into superhighways (or more accurately tollways) might help. This would be one way to get money from cyclists without technically having to have them register and be licensed. Either way everyone is eventually going to have to pay something. The financial math is irrefutable.

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