Half of Americans Support the Idea of Mileage Fees

Seventy-five percent of respondents supported a 10¢ increase in the gas tax if the revenue raised is dedicated to maintenance projects
July 9, 2020

The Mineta Transportation Institute has released its 11th annual national transportation tax survey exploring public support for raising federal transportation revenues through gas taxes and mileage fees: What Do Americans Think about Federal Tax Options to Support Transportation? Results from Year Eleven of a National Survey.

“Roughly half of American adults support some form of a mileage fee,” says Dr. Asha Weinstein Agrawal, one of the study’s authors and Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s National Transportation Finance Center. “For example, 49% supported replacing the gas tax with a ‘green’ mileage fee that charges an average rate of a penny per mile, with lower rates for less polluting vehicles and higher rates for more polluting vehicles.”

Half of respondents supported a “business road-use fee” that would be assessed on the miles that commercial vehicles drive on the job. Study co-author Dr. Hilary Nixon explained, “54% of people supported such a fee on delivery and freight trucks, and 52% supported such a fee on either taxis or ridesharing vehicles.”

The survey asked if people would support raising the federal gas tax rate by 10 cents per gallon. Seventy-five percent of respondents supported a 10¢ increase in the gas tax if the revenue raised is dedicated to maintenance projects, but only 44% support the same increase if the money is used more generally to maintain and improve the transportation system.

Other key 2020 findings include:

  • If Congress were to adopt a federal mileage fee to replace the gas tax, three-quarters of people would prefer to pay monthly or at the time they buy fuel or charge a vehicle. Only 23% would prefer to pay an annual bill.
  • Respondents thought mileage fee rates should be lower for electric vehicles (EVs) than for gas and diesel vehicles.
  • Large majorities value transportation improvements across transportation modes, including spending gas tax revenue for both road and public-transit-related projects.
  • Only 3% of respondents knew that Congress had not raised the rate of the federal gas tax in more than 20 years. (The last increase was in 1993.)
  • Support for raising the federal gas tax has risen slowly but steadily since 2020.

Understanding public support for increasing federal transportation taxes or fees is important because the United States faces growing needs across the transportation system, but funding hasn’t kept pace.

The survey data was collected from a nationally representative sample of 2,515 adults living in the United States. Respondents completed the survey online between February 14 and February 28, 2020, before shelter-in-place orders were imposed across the nation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ABOUT THE MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE

At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nations’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. MTI was founded in 1991 and is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dr. Asha Weinstein Agrawal is Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s National Transportation Finance Center. Dr. Hilary Nixon is Deputy Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute.

 

Media Contact:

Irma Garcia,

MTI Communications and Operations Manager

O: 408-924-7560

E: Irma.garcia@sjsu.edu