User fees aren’t coming close to covering roadway costs

Roads have long been perceived as self-financing through their user fees (gasoline taxes, tolls, and other fees). As it turns out, Amtrak actually is one of the most self-sustaining transportation programs in America covering about 85% of its expenses through user fees. More from Streetsblog Capitol Hill:

A new report from the Tax Foundation shows 50.7 percent of America’s road spending comes from gas taxes, tolls, and other fees levied on drivers. The other 49.3 percent? Well, that comes from general tax dollars, just like education and health care. The way we spend on roads has nothing to do with the free market, or even how much people use roads.

Even more interesting is to compare roads to Amtrak, a favorite target of self-styled fiscal conservatives in Congress. Amtrak recovers about 85 percent of its operating costs from tickets — a relative bargain compared to other modes. Even accounting for capital costs, Amtrak — which operates mostly on privately owned tracks — covers 69 percent of its total costs through ticket prices and other fees to users.

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  • Jason Everett Taylor

    Wow, maybe we should build more rail lines.