Principles for a New National Surface Transportation System

2015 Surface Transportation Primer

In August 2014, President Obama signed a $10.8 billion package to fund federal highway and transit programs through May 31, 2015. This year, Congress must enact a new authorization, extend the existing one again or allow the nation's surface transportation programs to expire.

In order to meet increased demand for transportation infrastructure, the 114th Congress is likely to examine a number of possible transportation funding solutions, including: an increase in existing motor fuels taxes; private financing through public-private partnerships (P3s); Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) financing; and toll financing. Long-term, Congress is expected to consider new transportation funding mechanisms involving distance-based or mileage-based user fees (MBUFs). In addition, Congress will need to review and renew existing transportation funding mechanisms such as tax-exempt bonds, tolling and TIFIA credit assistance program.

This primer summarizes the surface transportation funding options available to Congress and examines some of their pros and cons.

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T2 Explainers 2015

T2 regularly releases Explainers to help policy makers and the public understand essential concepts in transportation transformation.

Our first Explainer for 2015, “What is the Highway Trust Fund and How Is It Funded?” lays out the past and present of the fund that made possible the largest public works investment in history, and examines some strategies that could put the HTF back on a sustainable footing

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It's About Time


Transportation is failing and demands to be transformed. Population, income and economic activity have risen, increasing the demand for transportation, but infrastructure has not kept pace. The result is time wasted on clogged and deteriorated roads, pollution of our air and eroding economic opportunities.

Transportation funding is inadequate to the job. Transportation policy is ineffective at meeting the needs of our citizens. Inflation has dramatically decreased the purchasing power of the federal motor fuels tax, and revenues are wasted by inflexible and unfocused funding categories.