Public Willingness to Raise Transportation Revenues, Priorities for Transportation Spending, and Preferences for Types of Transportation Revenues: Evidence from Montana’s Billings and Missoula Small Urban Areas
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This project analyzed public willingness to raise transportation revenues, public priorities for transportation spending, and public preferences for transportation revenue types using recent household travel surveys for the small urban areas of Billings and Missoula. The share of the public willing to pay more taxes or fees for transportation improvements was 44% in Billings and 36% in Missoula (including neutral or undecided responses). This level of public support for increased transportation revenues is perhaps higher than generally perceived by leaders reluctant to publicly support a gas tax increase. Our results regarding transportation spending priorities are consistent with the prioritization of preserving existing transportation assets. Maintenance and repair of existing infrastructure received the most support of transportation spending options in both the Billings and Missoula survey samples. Our results regarding the preferred type of transportation revenue mechanism (available only for Missoula) suggested that a plurality of the sample (35% including neutral or undecided responses) preferred a $0.02 per gallon increase in fuel taxes to other options (such as an increase in sales or property taxes). Together, our results suggest a public willingness to more adequately fund transportation investments, a preference for spending on existing transportation assets, and a preference for more direct road user charges over less direct alternatives.