Coming in at #9 on ATRI’s trucking issues of 2017 is Transportation Infrastructure, Congestion, and Funding.
Infrastructure is one of the most important issues for truckers and for the economy as a whole. The trucking industry transports the majority of cargo in the United States with 73 percent of freight value going through trucking (ATRI). Poor and congested roads cost trucking companies by wasting fuel, delaying shipment times, stressing out drivers, and damaging vehicles. These costs are sometimes passed onto consumers. So this issue is important, not just for truckers, but for the public as a whole. ATRI estimates that congestion-related delays cost the trucking industry over $63 billion in 2015.
The most popular strategy upon truckers is raising the fuel tax to pay for these repairs. Tom Donahue, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, has noted that money raised by fuel taxes has been eaten away by inflation and improvements in vehicle fuel economy. These taxes have not been raised since 1993 and as a result the federal highway and transit trust fund will be short $138 billion over the next decade.
The Chamber of Commerce is proposing a 25-cent fuel tax hike. This will be implemented progressively over the next five years. Doing so would generate over $400 billion over the next decade. Donahue explained that the hike “would cost the average motorist about $9 a month, but our badly deteriorating roads are causing approximately $40 a month in increased maintenance and operating costs.”
It, however, seems unlikely that such a tax would be popular with the public or with congress. People desperately want to fix our crumbling infrastructure system, but don’t want to pay for it. Congress has a trend of punting long term issues to the new administration, which then continues to do the same. For example, look no further than our social security system, which is bound for implosion. For the sake of the trucking industry and the economy as a whole, let’s hope that the public soon realizes that they cannot have their cake and eat it too.
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