February 19, 2007
Once more with toll road math

It's not the Trans-Texas Corridor, but this report on how much you'll pay to drive on the new toll roads in Central Texas illustrates a point I've made several http://www.offthekuff.com/mt/archives/008494.html#008494.

So, what does it cost you to drive on Central Texas' emerging toll road system?

Well, about 12 cents a mile. Unless it's 18 cents, or 40 cents, or 64 cents. Or, in one notable spot near Lakeline Mall, a cool $1.50 a mile.

State and local toll officials chose to install a system that is based on paying every so often, rather than a more old-fashioned "closed road" system in which drivers pass toll plazas on the way in and out and pay a set per-mile amount for their exact mileage. Inevitably, the "open road" approach introduces sizable inconsistencies, with longer trips on the tollway typically more economical than a short jaunt.

There's more there, and McBlogger discusses it in a lot more detail. Check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 19, 2007 to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

From Austin, as McBlogger indicates, we're hearing a lot of supposed sympathy for the regressive nature of tolls vs. the gas tax - but it's fundamentally untrue. As in Houston to a lesser extent, Austin has to maintain a proportionally huge amount of major arterial lane-miles with no gas-tax contribution (thus, an urban driver, more likely to be poor than his suburban counterpart, pays out a lot more in gas tax than they get back - the difference being made up for in mostly property taxes).

Eliminating tolls in favor of a higher gas tax makes this subsidy worse, not better. IE, the poor drivers around here live in East Austin, not Georgetown or Circle C.

I've written about this a LOT; here's one example:


Unless the state gas tax regime changes drastically (i.e. forcing TXDOT to donate money to cities based on the proportion of arterial lane-miles they maintain without state help, for instance), raising the gas tax is the second-most regressive thing we could do (the worst being continuing to fund the 'gap' with property and sales taxes).

Posted by: M1EK on February 19, 2007 1:08 PM