Will Righty Railphobes Embrace Fee-For-Driving? It's Coming...
There's a spirited discussion underway by people commenting on an earlier blog posting about high-speed rail, with conservatives predicting the need for big operating subsidies.
I would predict that these same people will scream the loudest when the state adds tolls to certain stretches of interstate and then goes all the way to fee-for-driving, with a mandatory bar code or reader, like an I-Pass box, on your car registering use and a monthly bill or credit card debit coming your way.
These systems are already in use in congested spots or time slots, like rush hours, or in downtown London, and Singapore.
So why not on I-94 in the Zoo Interchange, or on Madison's Beltline, or on a bridge in Green Bay?
Let's ask the question.
If there was a collection for the full cost of driving - - road repairs, policing, plowing, rebuilding, and, God forbid, the broader impacts such as dirty air and lung disease, for example - - the costs would greatly exceed the thirty-some cents now paid as the gas tax.
Do the anti-rail folks want to step up and pay the full cost of driving?
The gas tax, onerous as it is in Wisconsin, where it is the second-steepest in the nation, does not pay all the drivers' bills, thus requiring additional subsidies that communities (people ) pay through property taxes, and what the state and feds (people) throw in every year in additional fees and the income tax.
There will be no need to do any of this.
Using a page out of Diamond Jim Doyle's playbook, we will simply re-purpose (ie loot) choo-choo and educational funding for the highways.
The state can't afford to build a toll system with new infrastructure, let alone new government employees to run them. Think of the booths, cameras, scanners, ez passes, lane expansions it would take to accomplish the toll system. It would take years to build this and years before the state would ever approve of it. Even if the DOT had approval, where does the state get the up front cash?
The state can lease the roads, and a private company will pay for the construction, reimburse themselves and collect a profit in the form of higher and higher tolls. Think of it as a tax.
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