Pennsylvanians can soon expect multiple fees or taxes for using public roadways


File photo of traffic. (Getty Images)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania drivers can expect more than one type of fee for using public roadways according to a report from the Transportation Revenue Options Commission (TROC). The reason — lack of funds.

On March 12, Governor Tom Wolf tasked the commission with developing a number of recommendations to fill the $8.8 billion annual budget needed to keep the state-owned transportation system “in a state of good repair.” The commission’s most promising solution was Mileage-Based User Fees (MBUF) which charge a fee for a given amount of distance traveled.

The fee would, in theory, replace the gas tax which continues to drive the gap in funding. The commission says the gas tax has become less reliable as Pennsylvanians are making the leap to electric or hybrid vehicles. As the volume of gas consumption decreases, so does revenue for road repairs.

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In response, the report states, “MBUF presently appears to be the best long-term funding solution for Pennsylvania,” but the fees are not expected to make a profit until Phase 3, which could take five or more years.

“Therefore, it is vital to identify and implement multiple near and medium-term funding sources, as highlighted on the following pages,” the commission said.

Other possible funding options included bridge and corridor tolling, congestion pricing, managed lanes and other fees and taxes.

But one highly suggested proposal was lacking support — budget cuts. According to PennDOT, suggestions for budget cuts and layoffs were among the top three comments of the nearly 6,000 people who attended an online engagement opportunity. The next most popular comment – opposition to tax increases.

While it’s still too early for an official decision by the state, it’s clear that transportation is not free, and most people do not want to pay for it.

“It is time to act—wisely, boldly, and fairly—to properly fund the transportation system we need for today and tomorrow,” the commission added. “Pennsylvania’s economic performance relies on its transportation system. Transportation faces a funding crisis that must not contribute to economic decline.”

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