The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has released the results from its 14th annual survey in a series that explores public priorities for the federal transportation program. The survey series also assesses public support for raising transportation revenue through higher federal gas taxes or a new mileage fee.

“A supermajority of the survey respondents, 70%, said they would support raising the federal gas tax rate to make roads and highways safer,” says study co-author Asha Weinstein Agrawal, PhD. “Perhaps that is because, sadly, so many have experienced collisions.” The survey found that one in six respondents had experienced a motor vehicle collision in just the previous year, whether as a vehicle occupant, cyclist, or pedestrian. Also, one in nine of all respondents had suffered an injury from a collision during the previous year.

Along with safety, respondents wanted to see better road maintenance. As co-author Hilary Nixon, PhD, explains: “When we ask respondents about their overall goals for the transportation system, maintenance has always been a top priority, year after year.” In the 2023 survey, 92% of respondents rated improving road and highway maintenance as a somewhat or very important priority for spending federal transportation dollars. Also, 71% of respondents said they would support raising the federal gas tax rate if the money were dedicated to projects for maintaining streets, roads, and highways.

The survey also assessed public support for the idea of adopting a new federal mileage fee. Key findings include:

  • 51% of respondents supported the idea of replacing the gas tax with a “green” mileage fee. The rate for this fee per mile driven would vary depending upon how much the vehicle pollutes. On average, vehicles would be charged 3¢ per mile, but vehicles that pollute less would be charged less, and vehicles that pollute more would be charged more.
  • 53% thought that electric vehicles should pay a lower mileage-fee rate than gas and diesel vehicles.
  • 59% of respondents thought low-income drivers should pay a lower mileage fee rate than higher-income drivers.

The survey data for this study was collected from a nationally representative sample of 2,531 adults living in the United States. Respondents completed the online survey in February and March of 2023. Trends in Support for Adopting the Flat and Green Mileage Fee Options