Sunday, April 29, 2007

Why Collect Tolls When You Can Tax?

So I'm in the Bay Area this week and want to rant about the stupid bridge tolls. It's not the amount that annoys me but rather the inefficiency of the toll collection process. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about fee for usage as a more socially efficient means of paying for infrastructure. That being said, collecting tolls on the various bridges in the Bay Area is one of the biggest wastes of resources. Any one who has tried to cross one of the bridges during rush hour knows exactly what I'm talking about. Traffic gets backed up for miles just so the city can collect $4 per car. In this case, the cost (inefficiency) of collecting the direct usage fee is far greater than the alternative of collecting the revenues in a more indirect manner. My proposal would be to increase property taxes for homeowners in the Bay Area to offset the revenues lost by ending the bridge tolls. EVERYONE benefits from the bridges in some form or another and I'm willing to bet there's a pretty high correlation between price of home owned and usage of the bridge. In any case, the inefficiency of this indirect payment would be considerably less than the current inefficiency of everyone slowing down to pay the toll. I actually like property taxes a lot because it's one example of a progressive tax that is based on consupmtion and not production., but that's a topic for a different day....

Comments:
have you been smoking boy....if I live in a Pacific Heights mansion worth $10 million and work in SF and I have no friends in the East Bay and no reason to go there (since I damn sure ain't going on Southworst) then I need to subsidize a birdge that I won't use. The problem with Bay Bridge is that they should encourage more folks to use Fastrak by lowering Fastrak tolls to $2 and by passing out Fastrak devices like crack. TBJ
 
Dear Anonymous: I own a $7 million house in the city, work in the city and rarely drive. Yet, I agree with Andy. The tolls are terrible, fastrak or not, and everyone benefits (even if you never use the bridge yourself you benefit indirectly). I'd rather pay the city some other way.
 
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