Poll shows strong opposition to mileage tax

In a recent poll of 500 Washington voters conducted for Washington Policy Center, only 31 percent of Washington voters supported the idea of replacing the state gas tax with a per-mile charge. The poll of 500 voters showed 61 percent oppose the idea. The results suggest efforts in Olympia to implement a Road Usage Charge (also known as a mileage tax) face an uphill battle in gaining public support.

Poll results also indicated the public’s transportation priorities may be at odds with those of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), with 55 percent indicating it is extremely/fairly important for government officials to reduce traffic congestion and travel times, yet only 38 percent rating WSDOT’s delivery on that priority either excellent or good. A plurality of voters (42 percent) chose the maintenance and improvement of existing highways and bridges as their top priority for state government transportation policy. Voters chose building more roads, adding lanes to traffic chokepoints and expanding highways as their second highest priority (31 percent). Funding local bus and transit agencies came up third (23 percent).

“These results suggest WSDOT leaders are out-of-touch with the people they serve and need to rethink their priorities to better deliver what the public wants,” said Mariya Frost, Washington Policy Center’s Coles Center for Transportation director. “Unsurprisingly, the poll results show strong public support for congestion relief and individual mobility.”

Voters also strongly rejected the idea of another state tax to support local transit with only 40 percent supporting the concept.

Voters showed a strong preference for individual transportation choice. When asked whether they believed Washington State government officials should make efforts to manage travel behavior or accommodate individual travel choices, only 28 percent expressed support for state management of travel behavior.

“Minimizing travel times and improving people’s freedom of mobility is essential to providing greater access to employment opportunities, reducing poverty and increasing affluence,” said Frost. ” These poll results indicate the state is not operating within that framework of need. Policymakers should move away from restricting choice and movement and respond to public demand.

Results from the statewide poll of Washington voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

David Boze is the Director of Communications and Marketing for the Washington Policy Center.

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