New research released by the Fiscal Research Center of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University suggests that public funding options for transportation – road development, maintenance and repair, and improvements to public transportation – are generally not supported by a majority of Americans.
The report discusses the extent of public support for and attitudes towards various transportation funding options – and how drivers say they would respond to these options – by analyzing existing, publicly available opinion surveys and conducting a new survey of 2,000 Georgia drivers.
The review of existing surveys revealed that sales taxes (of less than 1 percent), with revenues to be spent strictly on transportation projects, appear to be the most favored of all tax options, yet they did not receive majority support. Other patterns identified from this review:
- Tolls are the most favored alternative for transportation finance, particularly when compared to taxes in the survey questions.
- Approval for a funding source is higher when the proposals are specific and respondents are provided explicit information rather than asked general questions concerning their support.
- Public support is higher among respondents who are users of an option, such as HOT lanes, (potential and current) than those who never expect to be users and when the revenues are linked to specific purposes related to transportation.
- A general concern with fairness; support depends on whether the public perceives an option as more or less fair.
The Georgia survey was conducted in August 2011 to determine the degree of public support for five potential alternatives for generating transportation revenues, outside of sales tax revenues.
Among the options presented, Georgia drivers indicated greater support for:
- Toll roads, which provide greater choice and a known benefit for a given cost.
- Statewide employee-parking lot fees, which offer a flat fee and lower annual cost than the gasoline or VMT taxes. (93% of those surveyed do not pay anything to park at work.)
- Solo use of managed lanes, a choice that may be more of a function of an individual’s time value than trip characteristics.
Georgians showed less support for an increase in the gasoline tax or implementation of a VMT tax.
Titled, “Measuring Preferences for and Responses to Alternative Revenue Sources for Transportation,” (FRC Report 244) the report is authored by Pam Scholder Ellen, an associate professor of marketing in GSU’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business; economics professor David L. Sjoquist, the Dan E. Sweat Distinguished Scholar Chair in Educational and Community Policy at the AYSPS; and Rayna Stoycheva, a lecturer at the University of Miami. It is part of a larger research project funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation and the University Transportation Center at Georgia Tech.
Download FRC publications here.