PUBLICATION

MTI Report 08-05

Research Report“Green” Transportation Taxes and Fees: A Survey Of Californians (PDF 1MB)

Principal Investigator:  Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Ph.D.

ABSTRACT

This report explores public opinion on a new and promising concept—green transportation taxes and fees. These are taxes and fees set at variable rates, with higher rates for more polluting vehicles and lower rates for those that pollute less. This approach to transportation taxes and fees adapts the traditional transportation finance system to achieve two critical public benefits at once: encouraging drivers to choose more environmentally-friendly transportation options and raising revenue for needed transportation programs. To test public support for green transportation taxes and fees, the authors conducted a random telephone survey of 1,500 Californians that asked respondents their views on five hypothetical tax and fee options: a flat-rate and a green vehicle registration fee, a flat-rate and a green mileage fee, and a “feebate” program for new vehicle purchases under which more-polluting vehicles would be charged a tax and less-polluting vehicles would receive a rebate. The survey results show that the concept of green transportation taxes and fees strongly appeals to Californians. The survey tested this in two ways: by testing support for the three hypothetical green transportation tax and fee policies, and also by comparing support levels for flat-rate versus green versions of two taxes. Majorities of the respondents supported all three green taxes and fees tested. Another striking finding from the survey is that support for the green taxes and fees did not vary greatly by population subgroups; a diverse range of Californians supported the green taxes and fees. An analysis comparing support for the green and flat-rate vehicle registration fee and feebate proposals confirmed that in every subgroup, more people within that subgroup supported the green than the flat version of the two taxes tested.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

ASHA WEINSTEIN AGRAWAL, Ph.D.

Dr. Agrawal is the Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center, and also an Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University. Her research and teaching interests in transportation policy and planning include transportation finance, pedestrian planning, and urban street design. She also works in the area of planning and transportation history. She has a B.A. from Harvard University in Folklore and Mythology, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Urban and Regional Planning, and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in City and Regional Planning. For a complete listing of her publications, see http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/weinstein.agrawal

JENNIFER DILL, Ph.D.

Dr. Dill is an Associate Professor of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, and the Director of the Center for Transportation Studies at PSU. Her research and teaching interests focus on transportation and environmental planning, travel behavior, air quality, and transportation-land use interactions. Prior to entering academia, she worked as an environmental and transportation planner for government and non-profit organizations in California. She has a B.S. in Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning from UC Davis, an M.A. in Urban Planning from University of California at Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley.

HILARY NIXON, Ph.D.

Dr. Nixon is an Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University. Her research and teaching interests in the field of environmental planning and policy focus on the relationship between environmental attitudes and behavior, particularly related to waste management and linkages between transportation and the environment. She has a B.A. from the University of Rochester in Environmental Management and a Ph.D. in Planning, Policy, and Design from the University of California at Irvine

TECHNICAL

Authors: Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Ph.D., Jennifer Dill, Ph.D., Hilary Nixon, Ph.D.
Published: June 2009
Keywords: Environmental protection; Finance; State taxation; Registration fees; Revenues; Taxation; Taxes