Hot Lanes a Fair Way to Pay for RoadsAugust 19th, 2008 by ed friedrich
A new study by UCLA and USC claims that hot lanes like those on Highway 167 are fairer to low-income people. Hot lanes are those that you can pay to use to bypass the slower “free” lanes.
That seems like a no-brainer. Maybe I’m not getting it, but the people who can afford to use the fast lanes are probably middle- or upper-income. So they’re paying more than their share for the road that poor people can’t afford to drive on.
If the road is paid for with gas taxes or sales taxes, people of all incomes pay about the same for them, but it would be a bigger percentage of the poor people’s incomes.
The good news is that poor people don’t have to pay so much. The bad news is they’re stuck in the slow lanes. It’s another example of getting what you pay for, which in this case seems like a good thing.
Although the only hot lanes in Washington now are on Highway 167, there will be many more to follow.
Popular wisdom is that toll lanes are unfair to the poor. But the study compared paying for a highway with those tolls versus a statewide gas or sales tax and found the opposite. It makes sense, because those who use the toll lanes are probably middle- or upper-income people, so they’ll contribute more to paying for the road