The Mineta Transportation Institute has released the topline results from its 12th annual survey exploring public support for federal transportation taxes and fees. The survey found that 53% of Americans supported the concept of a “green” mileage fee. The fee described would charge drivers an average rate of three cents per mile driven, with lower rates for less polluting vehicles and higher rates for more polluting vehicles.
The survey findings offer a snapshot of current public opinion about mileage fees at a time when both Democratic and Republican officials are openly discussing them as a possible replacement for the gas tax. Mileage fees are expected to be part of the conversation when Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks about President Biden’s infrastructure priorities Thursday to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Both ranking members of that committee—Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-Oregon) and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri)—have already expressed support for investigating mileage fees.
The MTI survey series has documented steadily increasing growth in mileage fees. In 2010, the first year of the survey series, support for the green mileage fee was only 33%. This year’s 53% support is twenty percentage points higher.
This year’s survey also found that Americans would like to see any new mileage fee consider equity and ability to pay. Close to two-thirds (62%) thought that if Congress adopts a mileage fee, low-income drivers should pay a reduced rate.
Other key 2021 survey findings about mileage fees include:
The survey data for this study was collected from a nationally representative sample of 2,516 adults living in the United States. Respondents completed the online survey between February 5 and February 23, 2021.
In June, the Mineta Transportation Institute will release a detailed report on the survey findings. This report will present findings related to both the federal gas tax and mileage fees, compare the opinions of different population subgroups (e.g., people who drive vs. those who do not), and discuss how public opinion on federal transportation taxes has evolved since 2010.
ABOUT THE MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE
At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San José State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nation's 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 Department of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants, including those made available by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB1). MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Asha Weinstein Agrawal, PhD, is Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s National Transportation Finance Center. Hilary Nixon, PhD, is Deputy Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute.
MTI Communications and Operations Manager