Poll: 73% of Americans Say Transportation Spending Is Inefficient, Would Prefer to Pay for Highway Repairs With Tolls Rather Than Taxes


Air travelers are worried about missile strikes and don't think new airport security fees will increase safety, but are confident in the TSA  

The new Reason-Rupe national telephone poll of 1,000 adults finds 73 percent of Americans believe the government spends existing transportation funding inefficiently. Just 21 percent of Americans think government spends transportation money efficiently.

Nevertheless, 46 percent of Americans think the federal government needs to spend more money on transportation infrastructure than it does today, 30 percent think the government needs to spend about the same amount as now, and 21 percent believe the federal government should spend less on transportation.

Reason-Rupe finds 85 percent of Americans oppose raising the federal gas tax. Mileage-based user fees are often discussed as the future of transportation funding, however 72 percent of Americans tell Reason-Rupe they oppose eliminating the gas tax and replacing it with a fee based on the number of miles driven. Only 23 percent favor replacing the gas tax with a mileage fee.

When asked about a specific funding challenge: paying for needed repairs and the expansion of existing Interstate highways, 58 percent of Americans say they'd rather pay for those projects with tolls, while 32 percent would prefer to pay for them by raising the fuel tax.

When asked to choose their top priority for transportation spending, a majority of Americans—55 percent—chose highways and streets, but a large number (38%) ranked transit first, and 5 percent put bicycle and walking trails atop the list.

Air Travel

As the investigation into the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crash in Ukraine continues, 47 percent of Americans say they are "somewhat" or "very" worried that terrorists might shoot down a passenger plane in the United States.  Fifty-two percent say they are "not too" worried or "not at all" worried about missile attacks on US passenger planes.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed say they'd be willing to pay higher airline ticket prices to arm US passenger planes with anti-missile technology, while 54 percent would not be willing to pay higher ticket prices.

Reason-Rupe finds that Americans don't believe the recent increase in airport security fees will result in an increase in safety: 74 percent say giving the Transportation Security Administration more funding "wont make a difference" in safety. Twenty-one percent say the higher fees will make air travel "more safe."

When it comes to the TSA's ability to find knives, guns and bombs, 52 percent of Americans say they are "somewhat" confident that the TSA would find the weapons, 24 percent are "very" confident in the TSA, 14 percent are  "not too confident," and 9 percent are "not at all confident" in the TSA's ability to spot weapons.

With some US airports now using private airport security screeners instead of TSA screeners, 46 percent of Americans think the private screeners will be about the same as TSA screeners, 31 percent think private screeners will be more cost-effective than the TSA, and 18 percent feel private screeners will be less cost-effective than TSA.

About the Reason-Rupe Poll

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll conducted live interviews with 1,000 adults on cell phones (500) and landlines (500) August 6-10, 2014. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percent and was executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

For more information and resources about the Reason-Rupe poll, please visit:






This is the latest in a series of Reason-Rupe public opinion surveys dedicated to exploring what Americans really think about government and major issues.  This Reason Foundation project is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation.


Emily Ekins, Director of Polling, Reason Foundation, (310) 574-2961
Kristen Kelley, Communications Specialist, Reason Foundation, (443) 722-5592