Portland State University Center for Transportation Studies Spring 2005 Transportation Seminar Series presents A Quiet Revolution in Transportation Finance.
Speaker: Martin Wachs, Director, University of California at Berkeley
Time: Friday, April 15, 2005, 12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Location: PSU Urban Center, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204; see map
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ABSTRACT: For nearly a century transportation systems have been financed primarily through "user fees." Tolls and vehicle registration fees and mostly motor fuel taxes have provided the revenue needed to build and maintain highways and increasingly to support public transit as well. But, over the past decade, even as costs have risen, fuel taxes have not been raised nearly enough to keep pace with inflation. Beyond that, overall fleet fuel economy has improved, dramatically reducing fuel tax revenue per vehicle-mile of driving. Gradually, to cover our costs, we are substituting non-user sources of support, especially general sales taxes, for the user fees that have been the backbone of transportation finance. In this seminar, professor Wachs will document these trends and will argue that they are not healthy for either transportation systems or public budgets in general. The focus will be on the near-term future, but longer-term trends will also be addressed.