New Poll Finds 77 Percent of Americans Oppose Raising the Gas Tax

The Reason Foundation conducted Reason-Rupe public opinion telephone survey of 1,200 adults nationwide and asked them about a range of transportation issues. The results, highlighted below, have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. This survey is part of a series of Reason-Rupe public opinion surveys dedicated to exploring what Americans really think about government and major issues.

First, some of the problems or challenges the survey reveals:

  • Nearly 50% say that for them congestion has worsened over the last 5 years, and over 50% think it will get even worse in the next 5 years.
  • Only 12% use transit with any regularity. And the number who telecommute is about the same as who carpool and more than who use transit to go to work, all at 4-5%.
  • Only 41% think the transportation system in their area is in good condition
  • 65% think the government generally spends transportation funding ineffectively

We then asked about some possible policy responses to these problems:

  • 77% oppose raising the federal gas tax
  • Only 33% think transit should get more funding than its share in travel
  • By a margin of 62% to 30% Americans favor more spending on roads because people and goods use them, as opposed to shifting funding to transit and other non-driving alternatives to try to get people out of cars.
  • 58% think new lanes or new highways should be funded with tolls rather than tax increases, and 59% say they would pay a toll if it would save them a significant amount of time
  • 57% support converting HOV lanes to HOT lanes, meaning letting single-occupant vehicles use carpool lanes if they pay a toll.
  • 50% oppose tolls being variable with higher rates during rush hours
  • 55% support public private partnerships to build new roads and other infrastructure
  • By 55% to 34% they support private companies funding and building high speed rails lines rather than the government.

The complete Reason-Rupe survey is online at: Reason-Rupe Transportation Public Opinion Survey – Winter 2011 Topline Results