Would Americans pay more in taxes for better transportation? Answers from seven years of national survey data

  • Hilary Nixon
  • Asha Weinstein Agrawal


This paper explores U.S. public opinion about raising new federal transportation revenues, using the results from a national, random-digit-dial phone survey that was conducted for 7 years, from 2010 to 2016. The annual surveys tested support for seven versions of a higher federal gasoline tax and two versions of a hypothetical mileage fee. We used both univariate and multivariate analysis to look at how support levels vary according to the specific features of a transportation tax, respondent characteristics, and time. The analysis shows that support for the taxes is tightly linked to the specifics of a tax proposal. For example, far fewer people supported a flat-rate mileage fee for general transportation purposes than supported a gasoline tax rate increases with the revenues dedicated to improving maintenance or safety. The population subgroups most likely to consistently support transportation taxes include young people, Democrats, drivers of fuel-efficient vehicles, and respondents who wanted to see government improve safety, expand transit, and improve maintenance. However, the multivariate analysis shows little variation among subgroups with respect to support for the least and most popular taxes. Finally, support for raising transportation revenue has increased modestly since 2010.


Transportation taxes Public opinion Fuel tax Mileage fee 



The authors thank the Mineta Transportation Institute for funding this study and the three anonymous Transportation peer reviewers for their insightful comments. The views expressed are the authors’ alone, as is the responsibility for any errors or omissions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mineta Transportation InstituteSan José State UniversitySan JoseUSA
  2. 2.Mineta Transportation Institute, National Transportation Finance CenterSan José State UniversitySan JoseUSA

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