Highways don’t pay for themselves

Critics of mass transit projects claim that we are “subsidizing” such systems, since they do not pay for themselves.

But do roads pay for themselves? The state of Texas says no:

Applying this methodology, revealed that no road pays for itself in gas taxes and fees. For example, in Houston, the 15 miles of SH 99 from I-10 to US 290 will cost $1 billion to build and maintain over its lifetime, while only generating $162 million in gas taxes. That gives a tax gap ratio of .16, which means that the real gas tax rate people would need to pay on this segment of road to completely pay for it would be $2.22 per gallon.

This is just one example, but there is not one road in Texas that pays for itself based on the tax system of today. Some roads pay for about half their true cost, but most roads we have analyzed pay for considerably less.

It became even more obvious that roads don’t pay for themselves when we had to bail out the Federal Highway Trust Fund for $8 billion in 2008.  And we will have to give the fund another $17 billion over the next year and a half.  Income from gas taxes has been decreasing since 2007 — not just because of the recession, but because people are driving more fuel-efficient cars and chosing to drive less.

If you want a truly libertarian system, where every person must pay for his or her fair share, don’t forget to make drivers pay for their fair share of roads.  If the gas tax across this country jumped to $2.22 per gallon, a lot more people would be pushing for relable mass transit and rail systems.

Alert: Crunchberries Are Not Real Berries

Late last month, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed a complaint filed by a woman who said she’d been buying Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries cereal for four years under the assumption that crunchberries are a real berry. “The plaintiff, Janine Sugawara, alleged that she had only recently learned to her dismay that said ‘berries’ were in fact simply brightly-colored cereal balls.”