Highways are Heavily Subsidized III

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Highways are Heavily Subsidized III

I was very heartened to read the comments on this commentary piece by Douglas Duer in the March 30th Roanoke Times.  His argument against subsidizing Amtrak was thoroughly and intelligently rebutted.

Commenter Joe Topham says:

This editorial is not particularly illuminating on the subject of passenger rail. The exact same could be said for government built roads (pretty much all of them) and airlines. Transportation costs money. So do traffic jams.

Former Republican candidate for Roanoke City Council Roger Malouf says:

…I am in favor of passenger train service through Roanoke if it is run correctly. Yes it involves public money….but then again what mass transit system doesn’t? The interstate highway system was built and is maintained by public money and public regulation. Same is true for every airport in the country.

I’ve written a couple of times on this subject.  In short, gas taxes have fallen short of paying for roads to the tune of $600 billion over the last five decades.  The balance has been covered by general fund revenues transferred to the Highway Trust Fund each year.  This number only covers what has been spent – it doesn’t even come close to what needs to be spend on maintenance and modernization of existing infrastructure.

All transportation is subsidized.  All of it.  But that’s OK, because transportation is a public good.  This is only a problem of those subsidies go to one mode of transportation – as they have almost exclusively done for several generations – rather than to a system which provides the most mobility for the most people.  That includes a mixture of automobile, rail, bike, and pedestrian.

It’s so exciting to see that people finally understand this and are easily countering tired arguments like Mr. Duer’s.

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