A bipartisan bill recently proposed by members of the U.S. Senate could raise the federal gas tax by 12 cents over the next two years. Though motorists and truckers will feel the effects at the pump, many see the increase as a way to fix the nation’s transportation problems. The funds would be used to repair and replace many aging roads and replenish the Highway Trust Fund.
For fear of voter backlash, Congress was hesitant to raise the gas tax. They had not done so since 1993. Whether or not the gas tax is increased, changes will occur to the industry. For the for the first time in 20 years, the cost of transporting goods to retail outlets will undoubtedly surpass the cost of distributing goods among consumers.
Considering the innovations made to passenger cars in the past 20 years, motorists are not pumping as much fuel as they used to. Hybrid technology, 100% electric vehicles, and a better fuel economy in traditional vehicles have resulted in drivers spending less at the pump. This efficiency of passenger vehicles pushes the liability of the tax increase on the trucking industry. The average passenger car gets 20 miles to the gallon, whereas the average semi-truck gets 7 miles to the gallon.
Certain regions will benefit greatly from the proposed tax increase. The Northeast, the U.S. region that sees the highest road usage, is subject to a harsh winter climate that decimates miles of roadway a year. Local taxes and tolls have funded the most critical and/or expensive repairs in recent instances.
Areas like the Midwest are also in need of road reparations, yet the region lacks the population to make up for the funding gap in taxes. Kansas and Nebraska rely almost exclusively on funding from other states to keep their highways safe.
The bill has been endorsed by Automobile Association of America and the Owner Operator Independent Driver's Association, among other organizations in the carrier industry.