It seems the original intent of such charges was primarily maintenance. Sadly, it appears today they mainly go to pork barreling, since something like 22 states get more than they put into the trust fund, while 28 get less than they put in (or was it the other way around?). Alaska gets over $5 for every $1 it puts in. And hey, they earned it.
Why 'Pardon Dust
What baffles me is the (political) equal fanaticism in using asbestos then and the fanaticism in blaming asbestos now. Asbestos was known to mankind for three millenia but was never used as...
The confusion here seems to be that some people are trying to approach this from a laissez-faire perspective --- people get what they pay in. I think coordinating equity here is almost impossible.
But put that aside too, as it's not paying for roads that's really at issue --- that's going to happen in its corrupt, bottom feeding little way no matter what, especially in a place like New York City. Rather, the issue really comes down to two things:
1) Use of the space. Somebody (me) mentioned that pedestrians in some circumstances get the sort end of the stick. In Manhattan anyway, and probably a lot of NYC outside Manhattan, pedestrians outnumber drivers at least 5 to 1, and it's often more efficient to walk anyway. So this is a question of balancing different people's rights to the same space. Some are advancing a viewpoint that people who drive have a right to all the amenities that naturally come with driving, including using the road space, parking, etc., even if they don't pay for this cost, and even though pedestrians outnumber them in the situation at hand. On the other hand, 1 out of 5 people is using 25x more of some of the most valuable real estate on Earth at a very low cost. In the end, there are different parties with different interests vying for the same space, and a statutory right presently exists to use that space in a certain manner.
2) Economic efficiency. I don't think anybody has disputed that traffic in Manhattan is so ludicrous that it's not really economically or environmentally efficient to continue with the status quo. Mike ("slim") keeps pointing out that changing the status quo to increase traffic throughput might have a negative effect on lower income people. I rather doubt that lower income people make up the majority of drivers in Manhattan, unless driving is something they're paid to do, but I also think that it's unlikely that somebody, in the end, won't get screwed by changing the status quo.
The second issue really is about raising costs the adjust demand for using space set aside for traffic. If costs of using road space increase, then fewer people will want to use that road space, and consequently traffic could potentially flow more easily. The question that arises from that scenario then, is the economic payoff good? Idle cars are bigger polluters than moving cars, so environmentally the idea seems sound.
The other issue about #2 concerns the economic costs implementing some kind of proposal like the above. The idea is that raising costs results in more efficient traffic movement, which in turn means paying more to use road space. For example, this, in turn, means that, say, delivery trucks will have to pay more to get into and around Manhattan. In theory, that additional cost is pbutted onto consumers in the end. However, there's also the little factoid that they don't get to their destinations very quickly right now, they're frequently idling and wasting fuel, and this is causing increased air pollution. So, would charging more for traffic, thereby reducing demand to use space set aside for traffic, allow delivery vans to get to their destinations faster, and thereby actually reduce internal and external costs?
(Personally, I feel that the most essential service provided by automobiles in Manhattan is emergency services and deliveries. Others really are just conveniences for the drivers-taxi riders-etc., and these conveniences aren't really ones that the working clbutt can pay for readily anyway.)
They have the same effect anyway.
It would really be nice if the federal government got out of the highway funding business. When pork welfare states like Wyoming and Alaska have the same number of senators as New York and California, and also outnumber tax donor states in Congress, it just doesn't bode well for those tax donor states with transportation problems.
For f*ck's sake, probably the nicest roads in the country are probably in West Virginia, which if it isn't the poorest state is damn close.