Road subsidies grow as 'user fees' stagnate
SubsidyScope, a publication of the Pew Charitable Trusts, reports that “user fees” such as gas taxes, registration fees, titling taxes and tolls account for only 51 percent of U.S. highway costs – compared with 71 percent 40 years ago. The rest must be subsidized out of general accounts.
So the private vehicle owner is as much a ward of the state as the city bus rider. It’s just a matter of degree.
Fundamentally, there's nothing wrong with paying for transportation out of general revenues. Whether we remain rooted in one place all our lives or travel the world like Marco Polo, we collectively benefit from the mobility that modern transportation systems bring.
What's useful about the SubsidyScope report is that it debunks the notion that auto travel is robust, libertarian, market-driven transportation and that mass transit is a socialistic boondoggle. Clearly, any healthy modern society needs a mixture of both roads and transit -- paid for by any means the public finds to be the least unpalatable.