Tolls, Not Taxes: How Americans Want to Fix Traffic Jams

"Communist China has way more cases where the private sector is involved in building roads than the United States does," says Reason Foundation transportation economist Adrian Moore.

Moore sat down with Reason to discuss transportation policy in general and the results of the January Reason-Rupe poll in specific. The Reason-Rupe poll is a quarterly national survey of Americans and the latest iteration focused on transportation issues.

Among the main results:

-Nearly 50 percent of respondents say that for them congestion has worsened over the last five years, and over 50 percent think it will get even worse in the next five years.

-Only 12 percent use transit with any regularity and the number who telecommute is about the same
as those who carpool.

-65 percent think the government generally spends transportation funding ineffectively.

-77 percent oppose raising the federal gas tax.

-58 percent think new lanes or new highways should be funded with tolls rather than tax increases, and 59 percent say they would pay a toll if it would save them a significant amount of time.

The full results, along with an explanation of methodology and analysis by poll director Emily Ekins, is online here.

About 10 minute; filmed by Zach Weissmueller and Sharif Matar, and edited by Matar.

Go to for downloadable versions and subscribe to's YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Joe M||

    Shocking news! Most people want to pay less and get more.

  • ||


    Americans want wide open freeways, low gas taxes, and big suburban homes. Too bad those days are over.

  • Republican||

    It's Democrats' fault. And when my administration further fucks things up, hey look over there a Muslim/gay/Mexican!

  • DK||

    I can't stand those gay Mexican Muslims.

  • Dúnadan||

    -Only 41% think the transportation system in their area is in good condition.

    Yep. The roads in Virginia are a disgrace. They have been siphoning off gas tax money for public transportation and general fund projects for decades.

  • ||

    Who will build the roads?

    Why, Somalians, of course. Nature's road builders, they are.

  • Somalian Road Corporation||

    That's why we're here!

  • Harry Browne||

    If government were in charge of producing cars today we would all be driving Model Ts and being taught that without government there wouldn't be any cars.

  • ||

    As I commented on Poole's related story, "your article assumes that cheap fuel will be available indefinitely. When gas prices hit $4.25 this summer, watch how the expressways clear up."

    As the effects of Peak Oil become apparent, we will soon learn that freeway congestion is the least of our worries. The idea of building more freeways in 2012 is similar to that of building more buggy whip factories back in 1890.

  • ||


  • WarrenT||

    Peak oil is fracking stupid.

  • we||

    Epi and WarrenT will now give their predictions for when the United States domestic oil production will get back to its 1970 levels.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    Yeah, coz if it ain't made in 'murrica, it just ain't real oil.

  • WarrenT||

    I don't believe in "peak oil" but that's not the issue. The real issue is energy production not oil reserves.

    There will always be affordable energy. As long as people can make money providing energy, energy will be provided.

  • WarrenT||

    Also, fuck "caps lock". Why isn't there "peak caps lock" where we know we will run out of that key?

    I'm using my kids Toshiba laptop and the fucking key is huge. Why isn't it tinier and say located up next to the ESC key? And leave empty the space it's in now.

    This OT rant brought to you by Bees in a Bag. All the convenience of a sudden swarm of bees in an easy to handle tote bag!

  • ||

    Peak oil really refers to peak CHEAP oil. Which we've almost certainly already passed. I'd put oil at $200 a barrel within 10 years for sure, and probably 50/50 within 5 years.

  • Realist||

    "I'd put oil at $200 a barrel within 10 years for sure, and probably 50/50 within 5 years."
    That's true as long as the shit for brains socialist liberals have a say.

  • ||

    Trolls, not taxes.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, tolls are just another revenue stream for the government. We'll pay them in addition to taxes, and once in place they'll never go away (and will increase exponentially to the level of inflation).

  • Binky||

    This. Even after the road/bridge/tunnel is paid for, the $ is "needed" for maintenance and schools and ....

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    Not to mention the fact that eventually all artifacts must be replaced not just fixed. Manmade stuff has a way of wearing out.

    It's a shame that politicians have made the "tolls are just til the bonds are paid off" appeal in the past. Unfortunately too many people believe it's valid.

  • WarrenT||

    Then there is a political opportunity there to point out that it is unfair to pay both.

  • Numbnutz||

    your lame shut up or i kick your ass

  • ||

    Ooooh, I'm askeered!

  • ||

    59 percent say they would pay a toll if it would save them a significant amount of time.

    Nice push poll you got there.

    Go to Chicago if you want to see how toll roads operate in a heavily populated area. The answer is...not much better than freeways.

  • WarrenT||

    Raise the price then.

  • ||

    They have, again at the beginning of this year. It's still a clusterfuck everytime I visit my family.

  • Nash||

    The key is flexible rates based on time of day. Driving at 2:00 AM should be much cheaper than 5:00 PM. If there is congestion they obviously aren't charging enough money.

    Of course you need a high tech system in place to manage this, and not government pen pushers using carbon paper.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Determining user fees and who pays. Sounds like a job government won't fuck up!

  • Realist||

    Chicago is in a socialist state.

  • taxkilla||

    There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.

  • Google Slave||

    The 1%ers don't pay for the harm they inflict on the commons. That is a far greater sin. Taxation is a blunt tool, but an effective means for ensuring that the corporate rapists internalize the costs of their exploits.

  • Emperor Wears No Clothes||

    like employing people?

  • Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater ||

    I believe that tolls are a highly regressive form of taxation. You 1% flat taxers need to pull your peters out of our butts, please!

  • Google Slave||

    The more the 1%ers talk, the better socialism sounds.

  • Emperor Wears No Clothes||

    You probably need to pull the shit out of your ears, in that case.


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