NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Most Americans Oppose Raising the Gas Tax

December 28, 2011

A majority of Americans believe new transportation projects should be paid for with user-fees instead of tax increases, according to a new national Reason-Rupe poll of 1,200 adults on cell phones and land lines, says the Reason Foundation.

  • The Reason-Rupe poll finds 77 percent of Americans oppose increasing the federal gas tax, while just 19 percent favor raising the tax, which is currently 18.4 cents a gallon.
  • The public thinks the government wastes the gas tax money it already receives.
  • Sixty-five percent say the government spends transportation funding ineffectively, and just 23 say the money is spent effectively.

The survey shows Americans believe new roads and highways should be paid for by the people driving on them:

  • Fifty-eight percent of Americans say new roads and highways should be funded by tolls.
  • Twenty-eight percent say new road capacity should be paid for by tax increases.

The Reason-Rupe poll finds broad support for user-fees.

  • If a toll road would save drivers a "significant" amount of time, 59 percent of Americans say they would pay to use it.
  • And 57 percent favor converting carpool lanes, or high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, into high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes.
  • Voters are much-less supportive of variably-priced toll lanes, however -- half of those surveyed oppose, and 39 percent favor, variably-priced tolls that rise and fall with traffic levels.

As governments at all levels look for ways to pay for transportation projects, public officials should note that 55 percent of Americans support using public-private partnerships to build critical infrastructure projects.  Just 35 percent oppose using public-private partnerships to fund highways, airports and other infrastructure.

Source: "77 Percent of Americans Oppose Raising the Gas Tax, Reason-Rupe Transportation Poll Finds," Reason Foundation, December 20, 2011.

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