Sunday, May 13, 2007

Are more road user fees needed?

When Minnesotans think about who pays for roads, they think that only car owners do. But in reality, we all do.

I do not own a car, but through local property taxes and Federal taxes, I pay for more roads than I will ever see. This is not an entirely awful scenario if I am able to get to the places I need to by transit. And if the roads are sufficient for Minnesota drivers. Roads are what allow me to take buses, and light-rail cannot serve every culdesac in the Twin Cities.

But there are many who feel that the roads are insufficient, especially when our population is still growing rapidly. ( this is where one could argue for better population policies, i.e. free sterilization ) Since the Twin Cities is the fastest growing metropolitan in the Upper Midwest, it would be wise to ensure our transportation system remains efficient. There is a greater investment needed in roads, but our transit system is grossly underbuilt. In fact, our transit system needs more light-rail lines to even call it modern.

With oil prices jumping 25 cents a gallon last week, it boggles my mind why Minnesotans balk at a 10 cent a gallon tax. After all, the oil industry is not going to freely build our roads - or a transit system that enables us to cut gas consumption. But if you don't mind paying more than $3 a gallon for gas, then why advocate to save 10 cents a gallon when it is $2.50?