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hmmm....every time I take the train from Convent Station to NYC is $12.50 each way....
 

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I had to double-check. And I had no idea the discount fare was so low too!

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Ha I wish it was $15! The train is $25 round trip for me, and I'm in between Trenton and NYC. And I still need to switch in Newark on most trains. Oh, make that $50 cause I usually don't go without the Mrs. So at that point might as well drive and park
Yea I was surprised when we bought our round trip tickets in mid-November to go up to the city to be in the Colbert audience, but apparently age matters to the tune of 50%. It was a very pleasant surprise!
 
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Discussion Starter · #84 ·
Call me crazy, but squeezing the working class for more and more money to continue feeding the inefficient bureaucracies and masking it as a solution is not a great answer to the problem!

It costs $13.75 to drive a bridge or tunnel into NYC!
Most DOT's are trying to implement a "pay as you use it" system...similar to power, water, etc. If you use the tunnel, you pay for it. The alternative would be to raise gas taxes for everyone, whether you use the tunnel or not. The money has to come from somewhere and pay as you go "makes sense". Don't use it, don't pay for it.

As for managed lanes, the big part some folks don't realize is that they are setup to "guarantee" a minimum travel time if you use them; i.e. a minimum average speed. When traffic goes up on the managed lanes, so does the rate to use them...to DISCOURAGE people from going in. Call it fee based metering, but they are trying to use the toll rate to manage the level of traffic to guarantee a certain trip time.
 
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Most DOT's are trying to implement a "pay as you use it" system...similar to power, water, etc. If you use the tunnel, you pay for it. The alternative would be to raise gas taxes for everyone, whether you use the tunnel or not. The money has to come from somewhere and pay as you go "makes sense". Don't use it, don't pay for it.
In theory, a "pay as you use it" system is quite fair. However, you are still trusting government to use the revenue for their intended purpose. Corrupt state legislators like we have here in Pennsylvania have shown time and again that they use tolls and gas tax revenues for other purposes.
 

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In theory, a "pay as you use it" system is quite fair. However, you are still trusting government to use the revenue for their intended purpose. Corrupt state legislators like we have here in Pennsylvania have shown time and again that they use tolls and gas tax revenues for other purposes.
We have the same issues in NJ. Roadway projects are funded by the gas tax, and if the primary finding source is shifted to use-base fees I guarantee the gas tax isn't going anywhere, so we'll just pay twice as much and get (if we're lucky) half of what we need.

In NJ we have two major toll roads, the NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. Both are run by the same agency, and I fail to see how the toll revenue keeps those roads operating any better than the other state and interstate highways that we have.

Yes I get it, the government needs revenue for infrastructure upkeep. But we've been forking over that revenue for ages, and all of the infrastructure in this country is crumbling. So why should we continue paying in hopes that tomorrow is going to be the start of the great government efficiency revolution?
 

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Most DOT's are trying to implement a "pay as you use it" system...similar to power, water, etc.
More government agencies that are notorious for failure to invest their revenue in their infrastructure!
 

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Interestingly, the PA Turnpike is one of the best maintained highways in the nation that I've driven on. To their credit, they do put the toll money back into maintenance and improvements. What I'm more concerned with is the trend toward public/private partnerships for new toll funded bridges and roadways. I much prefer this kind of thing to be 100% publicly managed because as soon as "shareholders" get involved, well... ;)
 
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Discussion Starter · #89 ·
Interestingly, the PA Turnpike is one of the best maintained highways in the nation that I've driven on. To their credit, they do put the toll money back into maintenance and improvements. What I'm more concerned with is the trend toward public/private partnerships for new toll funded bridges and roadways. I much prefer this kind of thing to be 100% publicly managed because as soon as "shareholders" get involved, well... ;)
Jim, the P3 idea came up due to agencies needing to build projects which they didn't have funding for. We have an example here in South Florida in the Port of Miami Tunnel. All of the container traffic going in and out of the port had to drive through downtown in order to get on the highway. The solution? Build a tunnel so there is a direct connection from I-95 to the Port. The cost was $700M or so. The DOT/Port didn't have the funds so they solicited a joint venture to design, build, finance and operate the tunnel for a certain period of time (i think 25 years). The payments for the construction and operation of the tunnel would be spread over the 25 years and the infrastructure has to be turned over at the end of the maintenance period.

As for funding, different agencies look to different methods to pay for building and maintaining infrastructure. The main source for non-toll agencies is the gas tax. Although 100% of gas tax does not go back to roads...some goes to transit or other agencies depending on the state. Depending on the project, sometimes federal funding can be requested to supplement a particular project. If its a toll agency, then the tolls are the main (and sometimes only) source of revenue. Many government agencies also sell bonds (similar to a mortgage on a house) to finance larger projects as they just don't have the cash in hand.

As for gas tax, the federal gas tax hasn't been raised in nearly 30 years. The gas tax is a per gallon charge, not a percent of the cost of a gallon like sales tax. That means that in 1990 when the average cost per gallon was $1.15, the federal gas tax was the same as today at an average per gallon of $2.20. What else has happened...vehicles are more efficient and there are more EVs on the road which means there is less consumption...revenue from gas tax has been declining over the years. Tolls are unpopular, but taxes are even less popular! So, DOT's are faced with raising the gas tax (unpopular) or adding toll roads/managed lanes (unpopular) to try and generate the same revenue as before to maintain more roads than we had 30 years ago. Another complication was COVID. People not driving, staying home, working from home, etc. reduced gas tax revenue and tolling revenue country wide. Depending on where you live, traffic volumes are just getting back to pre-COVID volumes.
 
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Interestingly, the PA Turnpike is one of the best maintained highways in the nation that I've driven on. To their credit, they do put the toll money back into maintenance and improvements. What I'm more concerned with is the trend toward public/private partnerships for new toll funded bridges and roadways. I much prefer this kind of thing to be 100% publicly managed because as soon as "shareholders" get involved, well... ;)
Since 2009, PennDOT, thanks to our legislators in Harrisburg, has stolen $450 million a year from the PA Turnpike to fund public transportation. That's more than $6 billion!
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Pa. auditor general: Legislature should end or cut $450 million Turnpike Commission transit payment to PennDot (inquirer.com)
 

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Doc, even so, the PA Turnpike is one of the best maintained highways you'll find anywhere. I'll not get into the political think because that is not permitted here, but yes there are concerns about what you bring up.

Lapex, the Port Tunnel project you mention actually makes sense for one of those situations where a public/private venture can work. It's targeted for sure. My concern is that it becomes the norm rather than the exception. Some proposals I've seen almost make it so a private venture ends up with the effective benefits of ownership of a bridge, etc...kinda like the origination of the "turnpikes" back in the day which were basically private roads with an actual "pike" across the road to encourage payment for passage. :)
 
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IMO they shouldn't build roads (capital project) without having an identified and secured funding model for upkeep (op-ex).

Could you imagine at a corporation building a 500MM building then not have any idea or funding to keep the lights on, floors swept, trash taken out, etc?

Always baffles me that it seems to be a mystery how we fund the maintenance for roads.
 

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And yes, PA and OH toll roads are pretty good....sans the cops on the OH part of 80/90....lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #95 ·
IMO they shouldn't build roads (capital project) without having an identified and secured funding model for upkeep (op-ex).

Could you imagine at a corporation building a 500MM building then not have any idea or funding to keep the lights on, floors swept, trash taken out, etc?

Always baffles me that it seems to be a mystery how we fund the maintenance for roads.
It is actually quite simple. Similar to a home mortgage...The bank will lend you money based on your credit rating (performance history) and salary (future earnings). If a toll agency wants to build a $500 million project they go to market and sell bonds for a portion of the project that they don't have in cash. They have a history of generating revenue as well as historical traffic data (performance history) as well as projected traffic growth and toll rate (future earnings). Based off of this, they may sell $300M in bonds to fund the project and pay it off over 20 years. Although I'm in the private sector now, i did work for a toll agency in the past. The particular agency worked solely off of toll revenue and did not receive any gas tax or federal funding.

For what its worth, the SAME thing happens with most water/sewer departments...they also sell bonds for major projects such as new treatment plants, etc. The difference is that those costs are rolled up into our per gallon charge for water/sewer which we have always paid. When it comes to roads it gets a little more complicated because folks see some roads as "free" and others as "tolled" when at the end of the day, we pay for all of them...some are paid via taxes, gas taxes, tag fees, vehicle registration or tolls. The only one folks complain about, is tolls.
 

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My question was actually focused on non-toll roads. Seems like a yearly complaint about poor roads and a mystery on how to fund their upkeep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #97 ·
My question was actually focused on non-toll roads. Seems like a yearly complaint about poor roads and a mystery on how to fund their upkeep.
If you are having issues with a particular road, I'd find out if its a state road or local road. If its a state road, petition your local DOT. If its a local or County road then you'd need to petition them. County/local roads are the bottom of the food chain and likely do not see gas tax as a source of funding, but rather sales and property taxes. Each state is different, so it wouldn't help to search out how your area funds roadways, more so if you are having issues.
 

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Doc, even so, the PA Turnpike is one of the best maintained highways you'll find anywhere. I'll not get into the political think because that is not permitted here, but yes there are concerns about what you bring up.
Sometime, take a drive up the Northeast Extension between Quakertown and Allentown. The PA Turnpike Authority has not yet made any improvements along this stretch, nor has it made any improvements at the Lehigh Valley Interchange. Well-maintained? No! Expensive to use? Yes!
 

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It is actually quite simple. Similar to a home mortgage...The bank will lend you money based on your credit rating (performance history) and salary (future earnings). If a toll agency wants to build a $500 million project they go to market and sell bonds for a portion of the project that they don't have in cash. They have a history of generating revenue as well as historical traffic data (performance history) as well as projected traffic growth and toll rate (future earnings). Based off of this, they may sell $300M in bonds to fund the project and pay it off over 20 years. Although I'm in the private sector now, i did work for a toll agency in the past. The particular agency worked solely off of toll revenue and did not receive any gas tax or federal funding.

For what its worth, the SAME thing happens with most water/sewer departments...they also sell bonds for major projects such as new treatment plants, etc. The difference is that those costs are rolled up into our per gallon charge for water/sewer which we have always paid. When it comes to roads it gets a little more complicated because folks see some roads as "free" and others as "tolled" when at the end of the day, we pay for all of them...some are paid via taxes, gas taxes, tag fees, vehicle registration or tolls. The only one folks complain about, is tolls.
What you're describing are revenue bonds vs general obligation bonds. Like any other financial instrument there has to be demand for the instrument from buyers with the wherewithal to purchase them. When you look at the bonds as investments, the revenue bonds are typically safer and can borrow money at less cost because there are revenue streams for the future payments based on income from tolls, utility bills, etc. GO bonds depend on taxation as their revenue stream. When you consider that the primary market for all municipal bonds are huge investment houses, all major public works projects really require private buy-in. These quasi-public-private partnerships change the responsibilities but the source of funding to do construction/maintenance is still private money.
 
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