My friends at Active Transportation Alliance celebrated Leap Day with a bold new proposal - raise the state gasoline by indexing it to inflation.
"The Transit Fast Forward bill (SB 3236) invests in faster, more reliable, more frequent and expanded transit service through a new, dedicated source of funding that will grow over time," according to a blog post on the ActiveTrans website.
According to ActiveTrans, the bill:
- Indexes state motor fuel tax to inflation, adjusted annually
- Directs new incremental revenue to the Public Transportation Fund; road funds unaffected
- Applies only to the six counties served by CTA, Metra and Pace
- Helps rebuild aging infrastructure and expand service with projects like Bus Rapid Transit
- Helps transit agencies manage rising costs due to inflation and partially offset chronic funding shortfalls that have led to service cuts
- Estimated 2013 increase in state motor fuel tax: two-fifths of a cent per gallon
- Estimated new revenue for transit in 2013: $11.6 million
- Estimated total new revenue for transit over first five years: $168 million
- Last increase in state motor fuel tax: 1990
- Increase in CTA train fare since 1990: 80 percent
As I say, this is a bold move, especially at a time when gas prices are rising, and the talk is about cutting taxes, not increasing them. I laud the effort, but I just don't think it's worth the political capital that legislators will have to spend to pass it for a measly $11.6 million more in new revenue. And that has to be spread among the CTA, Metra and Pace.
As much as I would love to see this pass - and I have supported an increase in the gas tax in the past - I just don't see it happening now.
If you want, you can tell your state legislator to support the bill through the ActiveTrans website.