Transit Backers: Raise Gas Tax to Pay for Better Transit
Press release issued January 24, 2011
Washington-area transit advocates today called on the legislature to raise the gasoline tax to build the Purple Line and Baltimore Red Line and expand the state's MARC rail system.
In a letter to state legislators, Prince George's Advocates for Community-Based Transit, the Action Committee for Transit, and Local 689 of the Amalgamated Transit Union said that transit is the affordable transportation that Marylanders need in a time of economic crisis. In addition to the Purple Line and Red Line, transit advocates want to fund the state's MARC Growth and Investment Plan, which would offer frequent all-day service on the state's three passenger rail lines. More money is needed as well to maintain existing transit facilities, buy railcars and buses to carry growing Metro ridership, and repair bridges and highways.
The cause of the state's transportation budget shortfall, the groups pointed out, is that drivers are no longer paying their share. In 1993, the gas tax was 27% of the pre-tax price of gasoline. Now it is 8.3%, barely more than the sales tax paid on other purchases.
Meanwhile, transit riders have been hit with sharp fare increases. An analysis by ACT shows that even before last year's 15% fare hike, the percentage of Metro's budget paid by fares was greater than the share of the Maryland highway budget that comes from tolls and user fees.