Friday, December 22, 2006

Tolls on the Pike

Slightly off topic, but here goes.

Soon-to-be Governor Patrick is opposed to eliminating tolls because of the lost revenue ($114 million if you just get rid of the tolls west of Springfield).

Here's my take:

Tolls are good because they capture from motorists some of the costs of car/truck travel. The tolls on the Mass Pike are not good because they unfairly tax some drivers while other drivers, particularly those on I-93, get to ride for free on roads built and maintained, in part, with Pike toll money.

An ideal solution would be to put tolls on all the interstates through Massachusetts. Ain't. Gonna. Happen.

An acceptable solution would be to get rid of all of the tolls in Massachusetts in exchange for an increase in the gas tax that would offset the loss of toll revenue. Earmark some percentage for mass transit.


Charlie D. said...

Another aspect of tolls which can be positive (depending on your point of view) is that tolls make drivers pay an obvious direct cost for using the roads. Hidden taxes are not usually factored in when someone decides how they are going to get somewhere (personal automobile, bus, train, bike, walk, etc). Having all costs for driving a personal automobile hidden puts other modes of transportation at a disadvantage. For example, I've heard people complain about paying $1.25 to take the T or $4 to take the commuter rail. They then choose to drive instead, mainly because the true cost of driving is not obvious at the time they make this decision. Tolls (and their more-targeted counterpart, congestion charging) place more of cost at the time of travel, thereby helping to balance in peoples' minds the true costs of their choices.

Charlie D. said...

Well, I just restated your main point. I really need to read more carefully. It's nice to see we agree!

I think the one place we differ is that eliminating all tolls is really not an acceptable solution in my mind. I would rather see some drivers tolled than no drivers tolled, despite any inequities that may occur.