Drivers

Toll Operators Increase Lobbying Efforts

October 29, 2013

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Operators of toll roads, bridges and tunnels aren’t likely to change any minds in trucking when it comes to opponents of having more routes with fees, but they hope to sway some members on Capitol Hill as talk of what to do about highway funding is increasing.

The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association has released what it calls a “new fact sheet” addressing what it says are the top five myths circulated by opponents of tolling.

Debunking the Myths of Highway Tolling, outlines what IBTTA says are “truths about tolling as a successful and proven way to fund our nation’s highways and, in some situations, an increasingly appropriate and viable alternative to more traditional forms of transportation financing.”

“Highway tolling is a proven, reliable funding method that is already delivering results in 34 states and Puerto Rico, but unfortunately, federal law prohibits states from using tolls to rebuild existing lanes of interstate highways,” according to the sheet. It goes on to claim these major myths around tolling “are making it tougher for tolling to help fill our nation’s infrastructure funding gap.”

The group says some of the primary benefits of tolling include “better, safer roads; less congestion; more predictable trip times and reduced need for taxes to pay for roads.”

The “top five myths” IBTTA adresses are:

  • “Our Highways Are Already Paid For” – IBTTA says, “The reality is that there are no free roads. There are only toll roads and tax supported roads. The big difference is that you only pay for a toll road when you choose to drive on it.”
  • “Tolling is Double Taxation” – “A toll is a user fee, not a tax,” says IBTTA.
  • “Tolling Causes Delays and Congestion” – “Today, most toll roads, bridges and tunnels collect tolls electronically, keeping traffic flow moving,” according to IBTTA, and “all-electronic tolling also improves local air quality by reducing idling and congestion.”
  •  “Tolling Technology Violates Driver Privacy” – IBTTA says “toll facility operators, like other businesses, protect their customer data and typically retain transaction data only long enough to ensure proper payment.”
  • “It Costs Too Much To Collect Tolls” – Citing a 2012 Reason Foundation study, IBTTA says “the cost of collecting tolls in a mature automatic electronic tolling system may actually be cheaper than the cost of collecting the gas tax.”

In April, IBTTA released, Tolling in Brief, another paper calling on the federal government to embrace additional funding options, including tolling.

Many in trucking are opposed to increased tolling saying that it amounts to double taxation on users, that trucks are hit with highly disproportionate fees compared to smaller vehicles, many toll authorities are highly mismanaged and a majority of the public is against increased tolling. Some of these opponents support raising fuel taxes to make up for road funding shortfalls.

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