Transportation Finance Equity

Issue

Highway Trust Fund (HTF) spending outpaced the level of fuel tax revenues that support highway and transit infrastructure in 2009. Since 2009 the HTF has been augmented through a series of general fund transfers and protracted pay-for cycles. In the 113th Congress legislators will look to sustain the HTF as a long term funding mechanism through increased taxation and or new user fees.

Background

Congress is simultaneously facing large budget deficits and public expectations that investment in transportation infrastructure will continue to grow. While most revenue to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) comes from fuel taxes there are also revenue streams from taxes on trucks, trailers, heavy vehicles and tires.

The motorcoach industry provides nearly 700 million passenger trips annually with very little or no public subsidy. From 2002-2009, private sector commercial air passenger carriers, Amtrak, and mass transit combined received 98.6 percent of the total federal transportation subsidies. Subsidies per passenger trip:

  • Amtrak received $57.04 per trip.
  • Publicly funded Mass transit received $0.95 per passenger trip.
  • Private sector commercial bus received $0.10 per passenger trip.

Motorcoach operators are a vital part of the public transportation system providing flexible cost effective traveling options to the public. In addition bus operations do not require massive new investments in infrastructure and facilities to serve urban centers or rural communities.

Solution

Motorcoach operators should be considered part of the transportation solution and on a level playing field with passenger rail and publicly funded mass transportation in the application of diesel fuel taxes, tolling regimes and comprehensive pricing strategies based on the following arguments:

  1. Buses take cars off the road helping to mitigate congestion. One motorcoach can remove as many as 40 private vehicles.
  2. Use of motorcoaches, the most fuel and carbon efficient surface transportation mode, provides a positive environmental impact.
  3. Use of motorcoach transportation reduces overall taxpayer burden.
  4. Motorcoach operations support over one million American jobs and nearly $145 billion in economic activity.