Skip to main content

No one ever asks "how will roads pay for themselves or make a profit". But they do it with the post office and public transit. It's a brilliant messaging strategy to make people forget that their gas guzzling monopoly loses money paid for by taxes, but the other services are held to another standard entirely

This part of #CarBrain also bugs me.

I point it out at every opportunity. CarBrain just looks at me with incomprehension: What is she even *talking* about?

But I'm mom, and I know that if I just say it often enough, the kids will eventually eat over their plates. Town council people are next, heh. (I mean I don't care how they eat but I do want them to budget less for cars and more for life).

*mutters annoyed about libertarians they have met who have done exactly this about roads*
@gourdcaptain haha was gonna note the same thing. what a country! 😂😭
@gourdcaptain I misread that as ‘librarian’ at first 😂. But that reminded me of a book… A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear.
By making gas taxes pay for part of some roads, they give a rhetorical 'out'
how the hell does Congress fund themselves!?
Honestly I'm fine with demanding the roads all break even.

Inspired by this post…

Narratives are… stories. It seems obvious but for some reason we let ourselves, even embrace, the idea that narratives are information. And then then narrative shapes not just the discussion, but our thinking about an issue. That’s how that works.

If we’re serious about unbiased information we need to start over from first principles.

I once had a privileged and libertarian undergrad at Dartmouth College snicker at me when I said the US had subsidized the Detroit auto industry.

When I asked him who paid for the interstate highway system you could see his entire life pass before his eyes. He simply had no answer for the question.

I like to think the question challenged his entire existence and that he subsequently changed his perspective on everything. But, alas, I never saw him again.

Here in California our roads could make a profit if we doubled the use (gas) tax. It would also incentivize people to ride mass transit more, or at least buy an electric car.
Yup, same strategy as insisting that people worried about privacy must have something to hide: for companies, OTOH, secrecy is just normal business

... and in many towns, public transit is misused as a vehicle for extremely aggressive advertising ... guess what the rationale is? "but it pays for the bus stop shelters" 🤡

a particular bugbear of mine.

("basic public infrastructure paid for by taxes", apparently an alien concept ...)

If it's not a toll road, that's socialism.
It's not supposed to make a profit. It's supposed to provide a service in the best possible way. Free public transport costs (though less than you might think, because all those ticket gates and inspectors also cost), but it gets cars off the road, lets people live further from work, etc.
@designatednerd PennDOT started rebuilding I-95 through Philly in 2009 and will finish sometime in the 2030s. The 295/42/76 project just outside the city might go into the 2040s. No one questions it. It’s only considered a good and necessary use of money.

In the right context, mass transit should be "free" in the sense that it is supported by general taxes, not fares. Eliminate all friction of using the system, and create an incentive to use what you're paying for.

This may be a problem with multi-jurisdictional systems where users aren't paying the local taxes. (Of course, nobody seems to worry about that problem with public roads!)

Roads in many countries do make a profit by way of fuel taxes. In most of Europe, the fuel tax revenue significantly exceeds the cost of building and maintaining the roads.

It seems that in the US, they break even at the federal level and usually lose money at the state and city level, suggesting that higher state fuel taxes and a means of distributing some of the revenue to cities would be appropriate.

Also, weight-based fees to compensate for the damage inflicted upon roads.

The least damage you can inflict is with a bike, which is negligible-enough you might as well just make them exempt from paying.

This entry was edited (4 months ago)
@LisPi @M. Grégoire Yeah ending the gas tax and replacing it with a weight tax would change everything
how will they build the roads <- critiques of ancom