Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I-80 as a toll road in PA

there was a request for me to post my opinions on the tolling of I-80 to help pay for mass transit throughout the state.

most people see this and think "another tax", and since Ed Rendell is behind it, the average pennsylvanian automatically thinks it's either a scam, a bamboozle, or a hoodwinking. after all, ed is mean, angry, fat, and from philadelphia. he obviously doesn't have the state's best interests in mind.

but the fact is that suburbanites have been living fat off the work and tax revenues of cities in PA for decades. conservative pennsylvanians who want to live near a city, drive 45 miles to work, send their kids 30 miles to the uber-feeder highschool, and have access to a major metropolitan area want all of these luxuries without paying a nickle more in tax dollars or tolls.

the fact is, suburban lifestyles put increasing pressure on government treasuries -- local, state, and federal. people drive on subsidized highways to their suburban track mansions that were built with subsidized sewer, electric, and gas lines. yet when the idea comes up that the use of those roads be paid for BY THOSE WHO USE THEM, the suburbanites go nuts! how dare you take something that they unrightfully getting for free and make them pay a reasonable rate for it! it's socialism, pure and simple, but don't tell that to your average pennsylvanian conservative. what i have realized about conservatives is that they all hate socialism, unless it's benefiting them.

but it doesn't really matter. it turns out that those who use I-80 will continue to get a free ride. and those of us who never drive on it will continue to pay for it, even though what we really want to pay for is better public transportation in our cities, which would reduce the impact cars have on our highways.


andrew said...

The residents of Pennsylvania who have nothing of disdain for the cities of Pennsylvania (also those to whom "Pennsyltucky" refers to) don't realize how much tax revenue for the commonwealth is generated by the cities, especially Philadelphia. To maintain that level of revenue, and even to increase it, jobs need to stay in the cities. To keep jobs in the cities, an efficient and effective mass transit system must be maintained. SEPTA is neither efficient or effective, and is now bleeding money, and raising rates. Start charging tolls on I-80. I would suspect that the burden on local motorists would be minimal, but revenue could be gained from the cross-country truckers, etc. Not to mention the dope dealers getting their product from NYC and distributing it west, hahaha.

But it's a lost cause. Too many of the representatives in harrisburg from the countryside consider philadelphia nothing but a burden on pennsylvania.

tockeyhockey said...

i think that there are some arguments to be made for turning I-80 into a toll road that just don't apply for highways entering major metro areas. you simply cannot put tolls on I-76 into philadephia without creating massive back-ups and problems. I-80 wouldn't suffer that fate.

philadelphians also already pay a disproportionate amount of taxes compared to the rest of the state, and they are net tax exporters. in other words, more tax dollars generated in philadelphia are used outside of philadelphia than inside of philadelphia. so adding tolls to the city doesn't seem to be fair either.

Snike said...

So in other words, you are saying philly "exports" more taxs dollars than it receives from the rest of the sate. Hard to believe. The bottom line is, why put a toll on a road that is hundreds of miles outside of Philly and traveled by people with no connection to Philly to specifically pay for Philadelphia mass transit? I really don't have a problem with Rendell, other than some of the "boneheaded" moves he's made regarding budgets (remember the people stranded on the highway last year for multiple days in the snow storm) and other budgetary blunders. But he does use the state in many ways to specifically serve Philly and this is another prime example.

tockeyhockey said...

i don't think it's fair to say that tolls on I-80 would "only" be used for SEPTA.

what tolls would do is help pay for highway maintenance, which would free up money for mass transit throughout the state. and the more mass transit we have, the smaller our collective impact is on the roadways.

we have to find a way to get people onto buses and trains, or our entire infrastructure will collapse. minnesota is just the beginning of the problem that our nation will face over the next 25 years.