Transportation Funding

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Federal, state, and local governments are finding it increasingly difficult to raise sufficient revenue to build and maintain roads and transit systems. RAND researchers evaluate new and existing transportation funding mechanisms and policies including fuel taxes, mileage-based user fees, congestion pricing, and more.

  • Steel beams on the draw span, which needs replacement, are shown on the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2016

    Commentary

    The Long Game on Infrastructure

    Feb 20, 2018

    The Trump administration recently announced its Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America. With its lack of new federal funding, the plan may not be the best path to fixing America's most serious regional, national, and long-term problems.

  • Airport trading cards, photos by Airports Council International-North America; design by Katherine Wu/RAND Corporation

    Report

    U.S. Airport Infrastructure Funding and Financing

    Jan 14, 2020

    Passenger air travel is at an all-time high, and demand for it is expected to rise. Will current levels of spending under existing federal policies be sufficient to enable commercial airports to make the infrastructure investments needed to meet that demand?

Explore Transportation Funding

  • People wearing protective face masks wait for a bus in front of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Britain, March 19, 2020, photo by Simon Dawson/Reuters

    Commentary

    COVID-19: The Questions Ahead for Future Travel and Transport

    COVID-19 could have lasting effects on future travel patterns. Future scenarios, a method for visualizing different possible futures, can help inform decisions in deeply uncertain situations and can be used to think about policies that are important for people's quality of life regardless of how the future unfolds.

    Apr 15, 2020

  • News Release

    News Release

    Changes in Funding, Finance Policies Could Help U.S. Airports Prepare for Future Demand

    Changes in federal policies could help ensure U.S. commercial airports are able to draw on sufficient and stable sources of revenue to maintain existing capacity, accommodate growth and support a safe, sustainable national airspace system in the coming decades.

    Jan 14, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    U.S. Airport Infrastructure Funding and Financing: Issues and Policy Options Pursuant to Section 122 of the 2018 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act: Executive Summary

    Passenger air travel is at an all-time high, and airports are investing in the infrastructure needed to meet demand. This document summarizes the full report's review of the federal government's role in airport infrastructure funding and financing.

    Jan 14, 2020

  • Blog

    Hospital Prices, Border Solutions, Sri Lanka: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on hospital prices, common-sense solutions to the border crisis, myths about the Sri Lanka attacks, and more.

    May 10, 2019

  • News Release

    News Release

    Not Everything Is Broken with U.S. Transportation and Water Infrastructure; Improved Targeted Strategies Needed to Fix ...

    Transportation and water infrastructure funding and finance in the United States are not nearly as dire as some believe, but a national consensus on infrastructure priorities, accompanied by targeted spending and selected policy changes, is needed.

    Dec 5, 2017

  • Road bridge over Narragansett Bay, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA

    Research Brief

    Fixing U.S. Infrastructure's Ills Requires an Accurate Diagnosis

    This brief examines how the federal government can better promote investment in and maintenance of U.S. transportation and water infrastructure.

    Dec 5, 2017

  • Chickamauga Lock and Dam, near Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Report

    Not Everything Is Broken with U.S. Transportation and Water Infrastructure

    Transportation and water infrastructure funding and finance in the United States are not nearly as dire as some believe. But a national consensus on infrastructure priorities, accompanied by targeted spending and selected policy changes, is needed.

    Dec 5, 2017

  • An unfinished monorail project in Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 3, 2016

    Commentary

    Regulating Infrastructures in the Tropics

    Regulation helps address the demands of investors who are seeking assurances that their investments are safe, while also reassuring democratically elected governments. Regulatory reform could help Brazil attract more private investment in its infrastructure.

    May 26, 2017

  • Report

    Report

    Regulation of logistics infrastructure in Brazil

    This report deals with the regulation of logistics infrastructures in Brazil, focusing in particular on the federal level. Brazil, one of the key emerging economies in the world, has a particular need for developing logistics infrastructures.

    May 8, 2017

  • Flags and signs warn drivers about lane closures along Pacific Coast Highway near San Francisco, California

    Commentary

    Rebuilding America's Infrastructure in the Trump Era

    Policymakers generally agree on the need to rebuild America's infrastructure. But the country is far behind in this area. Why? Transportation projects take time and money. And it's hard to predict how a project will affect its surroundings.

    Nov 14, 2016

  • Rigging equipment is pictured in a field outside of Sweetwater, Texas, June 4, 2015

    Commentary

    Why Selling Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Is a Bad Idea

    Some lawmakers are proposing a sell-off of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to finance highway and bridge work. This is a shortsighted strategy.

    Sep 15, 2015

  • The U.S. Capitol Building, Washington, DC

    Blog

    The 2015 Summer Reading List for Congress

    With Capitol Hill slowing for August recess, this list of must-read research and commentaries will help ensure that policymakers are ready to dive right back in this fall.

    Aug 5, 2015

  • Los Angeles freeway

    Commentary

    Pay as You Go

    Using vehicle miles traveled as a means of distributing the cost of maintaining America's roads and bridges may not be the only answer. But it represents the kind of innovative thinking that is necessary when this sector of the American transportation infrastructure is desperately in need of a fix.

    Jul 22, 2015

  • Vehicles driving toward Mt. Hood in Oregon

    Commentary

    How to Improve Oregon's Mileage-Fee Experiment

    Oregon is rolling out the nation's first large-scale pilot to examine switching to a mileage fee instead of the gas tax. The trial is a welcome next step toward understanding how mileage fees can be deployed.

    Jul 7, 2015

  • U.S. Capitol building with summer flowers

    Blog

    Summer Reading for Congress

    No matter how policymakers spend their break—meeting with home-state constituents, traveling abroad with congressional delegations, or spending time with family—this summer reading list contains policy ideas that can help them hit the ground running when they return.

    Jul 31, 2014

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Multimedia

    A New Way to Pay for Transportation: Exploring a Shift from Fuel Taxes to Mileage-Based User Fees

    In this June 2014 Congressional Briefing, Liisa Ecola discusses growing shortfalls in federal and state funding for surface transportation programs, and the potential of mileage fees (rather than fuel taxes) to reduce those shortfalls while also reducing traffic congestion, harmful emissions, and excessive road wear.

    Jun 26, 2014

  • Automobile traffic backs-up as it travels north from San Diego to Los Angeles along Interstate Highway 5 in California

    Commentary

    Make HOT Lanes Permanent

    The first HOT lanes in L.A. have improved traffic flow and travel time reliability, are fair to users of the facilities, have improved transit service and have generated revenue needed to fund those improvements from voluntary toll payments.

    Apr 23, 2014

  • A truck is filled with sand at Wellsboro & Corning Railroad in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

    Commentary

    As U.S. Energy Booms, Don't Forget About Roadway Infrastructure

    Natural gas production is growing and many states and communities are reaping the economic benefits. One of the costs, however, will be damage to roads. One hydraulic fracturing operation requires about 600 to 1,100 one-way, heavy truck trips to bring equipment, materials, and sometimes water to and from a well site.

    Mar 11, 2014