It’s not that increasing driver’s license and registration fees are bad ideas for topping up Tom Corbett’s transportation spending. Maybe we should do that stuff too.
The issue I have with John Rafferty’s proposal is that there are far better ways to raise an extra billion dollars that would also accomplish some other important policy goals.
Congestion pricing road fares during peak travel times on the state’s most congested highways and major roads could raise hundreds of millions of dollars, and also accomplish the goal of reducing traffic congestion. And reduced traffic congestion would itself have economic benefits that would produce more revenue for the state. Lots of people would spend some of their previously-dead time working instead of sitting in traffic. More deliveries would get to their destinations on time, which means productivity improvements in the supply chain for a bunch of businesses. There’d be less air pollution from idle vehicles, etc.
The other big pot of money is the real estate around transit stations for SEPTA regional rail and Amtrak. The land around transit stations is highly valuable, but in many cases the transit authorities waste this land on park-n-rides and big surface parking lots. Pushing SEPTA and Amtrak (and other smaller transit authorities) to sell all the land around their stations to real estate developers, and then taxing the land value for a mile radius around all the transit stations would raise a good deal of money to pay for transit. And it would help achieve other goals like transit-oriented walkable development, increased transit ridership, reduced traffic congestion, and reduced pressure to build more sprawl in Southeast PA.
I don’t know why politicians would want to do unpopular stuff like increase driver’s license and registration fees – policies where the benefit is unclear to the payer – when there are options for raising a lot more money that solve problems at the same time.