Many Americans take it for granted that the federal government should regulate the transportation sector in the United States and continue to provide funding for transportation infrastructure, particularly highways and urban mass transit. Yet an economic and historical analysis raises questions about how much government safety regulation is necessary and whether private firms or state and local governments could provide infrastructure more efficiently.
With Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) intent on introducing a transportation bill as early as April, lawmakers are scrambling to bail out the transportation trust fund—a fund which may fall short of its obligations by August, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Citing widespread congestion and poorly preserved roads, bridges, and tunnels, some would argue for raising fuel taxes to pay for maintenance and expansion of highway and public transportation systems. But most Americans strongly oppose increased fuel taxes because state and federal governments have a well-documented record of misspending transportation dollars.