Talking Headways Podcast: Those Roads Won’t Pay for Themselves

podcast icon logo

This week we’re joined by Kevin DeGood of the Center for American Progress, who along with Andrew Schwartz recently wrote a report called Advancing a Multimodal Transportation System by Eliminating Funding Restrictions. Sound too wonky? I call it the “Roads Don’t Pay for Themselves Report.”

When approximately 5.5 percent of roads carry 55 percent of the traffic, you would expect them to support themselves. But even with conservative accounting, this report shows that’s just not true, especially in urban areas with larger maintenance costs.

We also get into the concept of “user fees,” national transportation politics, and the prospect of “devolving” transportation funding to the states, which is a hot topic these days.

Take a listen to this week’s pod and please think multi-modally! And if you enjoy the show, give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, where you can subscribe to get each week’s episode automatically.

  • Nice Post
    Answer Keys

  • JerichoWhiskey

    When I mention that part that the system is subsidized by the general fund, people start to hem and haw about how it creates economic activity and helps private businesses which is pretty hypocritical. Especially when the private freight railroads were bailed out of providing passenger service.

  • neroden

    Do you have a transcript? I don’t usually have time to listen through a long podcast; I can read much faster.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Actually, Highway Builders, Roads Don’t Pay For Themselves

|
You’ve heard it a thousand times from the highway lobby: Roads pay for themselves through “user fees” — a.k.a. gas taxes and tolls — whereas transit is a drain on the taxpayer. They use this argument to push for new roads, instead of transit, as fiscally prudent investments. The myth of the self-financed road meets […]

Transit’s Not Bleeding the Taxpayer Dry — Roads Are

|
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Roads don’t pay for themselves. But maybe they should. “Taxpayers cover costs that should be borne by road users,” asserts the State Smart Transportation Initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Road subsidies push up tax rates, squeeze government services, and skew the market for transportation.” SSTI, […]

A Sensible Alternative to Wisconsin’s Gold-Plated Highway Budget

|
If you value principles like social and fiscal responsibility, the Wisconsin transportation budget is an unmitigated disaster. Not only does Wisconsin DOT’s spending plan gut funds to transit and local streets, it lavishes $900 million in borrowed money to pay for extravagant highway projects of dubious value to the public. Good government groups and environmental advocates […]

Michigan Voters Love Transit; State Legislators, Not So Much

|
Do Michiganders value transit? Judging from the results of a recent election, the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ Voters in relatively conservative Western Michigan approved five out of five transit levies that were up for approval during last week’s election. (Three were approved with more than 75 percent supporting.) Through the magic of direct democracy, […]