This report summarizes the results from the fourteenth year of a national public opinion survey asking U.S. adults questions related to their views on federal transportation taxes. A nationally representative sample of 2,531 respondents completed the online survey from February 13 to March 23, 2023. The questions test public opinions about raising the federal gas tax rate, replacing the federal gas tax with a new mileage fee, and imposing a mileage fee just on commercial travel. In addition to asking directly about support for these tax options, the survey collected data on respondents’ views on the quality of their local transportation system, their priorities for federal transportation spending, their knowledge about gas taxes, their views on privacy and equity matters related to mileage fees, travel behavior, and sociodemographic characteristics. Key findings include that large majorities supported transportation improvements across modes and wanted to see the federal government work towards making the transportation system well maintained, safe, and equitable, as well as to reduce the system’s impact on climate change. Findings related to gas taxes include that only 2% of respondents knew that the federal gas tax rate had not been raised in more than 20 years, and 70% of respondents supported increasing the federal gas tax by 10 cents per gallon if the revenue would be dedicated to maintenance or safety. With respect to mileage fees, around half of respondents supported some form of mileage fee, whether that was assessed on all travel or just on commercial travel. Also, the majority of respondents supported variable rate structure options that included 62% who supported charging low-income drivers a reduced mileage fee rate and 52% who thought electric vehicles should pay a lower rate than gas and diesel vehicles. The analysis of trends across the survey series, which has run annually from 2010 to 2023, shows that support for both higher gas taxes and a hypothetical new mileage fee has risen slowly but steadily.
ASHA WEINSTEIN AGRAWAL, PHD
Dr. Agrawal is the Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center and also a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University. Her research and teaching interests in transportation policy and planning include transportation finance, bicycle and pedestrian planning, travel survey methods, and transportation history. She earned a BA in Folklore and Mythology from Harvard University, an MSc in Urban and Regional Planning from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.
HILARY NIXON, PHD
Dr. Nixon is the Deputy Executive Director of the Mineta Transportation Institute and a faculty member in the MS Transportation Management program at San José State University. She specializes in transportation and environmental planning and policy, and her research focuses primarily on the factors that influence pro-environmental behavior and the relationship between transportation and the environment. She earned a BA from the University of Rochester and a PhD in Planning, Policy, and Design from the University of California, Irvine.
Mr. Azevedo is a high-school senior attending The Nueva School in San Mateo. He has a strong interest in transportation policy, having served on the San Francisco Youth Transit Advisory Board and volunteered with various other transportation advocacy nonprofits, such as SF Transit Riders. He also leads the Nueva Transit Club at his school and studied sustainable transportation at COSMOS, a summer program at UC Davis.