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Reason Foundation report suggests tolling with a twist

In a new report, the Libertarian think tank essentially agreed with many objections by trucking and other organizations, and stated that “under current laws and practices” toll users “have a legitimate cause for complaint about paying both tolls and fuel taxes for the same highway.”

The Trucker News Services

4/7/2014

Tolling with a twist and a “better deal.”  That’s what the Reason Foundation has come with.

In a new report, the Libertarian think tank essentially agreed with many objections by trucking and other organizations, and stated that “under current laws and practices” toll users “have a legitimate cause for complaint about paying both tolls and fuel taxes for the same highway.”

It further stated that “ … any use of toll revenues beyond what is needed for the capital and operating costs of the toll facility amounts to a tax that singles out toll-payers, rather than applying equally to all motorists or all taxpayers.”

“So it’s no wonder,” the study added, “that highway user groups oppose such practices.”

Indeed, “Every gallon of fuel they [highway users] consume on the toll road carries federal and state fuel taxes. So toll road users pay a toll which covers the cost of building, operating, maintaining and reconstructing the toll road, but in addition they are also paying fuel taxes for those same miles.”

The paper proposes what the Foundation calls “value-added tolling,” which it says would create “a better deal for highway users than the status quo.”

Their five principals of value-added tolling are:

• Begin tolling only after major improvements (modernization/reconstruction) are completed.

• Limit the use of toll revenues to the specific highway or highway system where they are collected.

• Charge only enough to cover the cost to build or rebuild the highway, maintain it and improve and eventually rebuild its facilities.

• Use tolls to replace existing user taxes, not in addition to them, and

• Provide a better level of service than what prevails on the highways where tolling is introduced.

The Foundation said these five principles assume the tolls would use a per-mile basis using all-electronic tolling. Also, they would apply to every trip on the toll facility, from point-of-entry to point-of-exit.

All tolls would be “appropriate” for their vehicle category, with no penalties for getting off to buy food or fuel and then getting back on the tolled interstate. No mention was made as to how much commercial trucks would pay in comparison with other vehicles, or who would set the prices.

Electronic tolling, the paper said, are much lower in cost than toll booths and even open toad tolling by means of transponders.

It cited a 2012 study that found the cost of toll collection by the all-electronic method was estimated to be approaching just 5 percent of the revenue collected.

For the report click here.

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