Funding and maintaining a modern, efficient and safe transportation system is a core function of local, state and federal government. The free flow of the movement of goods and citizens is necessary and vital to sustain a healthy and growing state and national economy. Funding our state’s transportation system requires continued partnership between all levels of government and the private sector. Safe travel on our roads and bridges is paramount, requiring significant amounts of revenue for maintenance. The state’s harsh winter climate and hot summers also pose a challenge to the design, construction and upkeep of the state’s heavily traveled roads and bridges. Innovation, including in funding structures, transportation technology and the working relationships between government and the private sector, are also necessary to achieve, advance and adopt a 21st century transportation system.
The PA Chamber supports policies that will foster safe, efficient, and interconnected systems of air, road, water and rail to improve competitiveness of our businesses and attract new business to locate in our state. We need laws that will support and foster innovations, such as electric mobility, to demonstrate leadership for the future economy and improved quality of life for its citizens.
Currently, almost all state and federal funding for transportation spending comes from liquid fuels taxes on oil, diesel and gasoline. These taxes are, in essence, user fees, and policymakers should ensure that those using our systems of transportation are sufficiently paying for it. These funds should be used for transportation and infrastructure and not diverted for other purposes. In addition to a fuels tax, other funding structures that remain focused on user fees may be necessary to appropriately secure revenue from higher efficiency or alternative fuel vehicles; such structure may include a tax based on miles traveled or efficient electronic tolling of state highways. The federal government should continue to be a partner in supporting funding for maintaining the nation’s highway system, and funding responsibilities should not be devolved solely to the states and local governments. Finally, as diversions from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to support public transit phase down over the next several years, policymakers should enact policy that equitably funds public transit.
Reducing regulatory burdens will lessen the time and resources needed to navigate multiple layers of local, state and federal bureaucracy, allowing for more labor and capital to be directed to maintaining and improving the state’s transportation system. Public-private partnerships, provided they are entered into in a transparent and equitable manner, are a proven and viable means to achieve more effective build-out and maintenance of the system, and should continue to be used, including as part of modernizing and increasing the efficiency of the 89 public transit systems that are a key resource to move commuters, residents and visitors. Regulators should also grant flexibility to freight, rail and cargo operators when implementing various requirements. Finally, the total elimination of the state’s costly, outdated prevailing wage laws will allow more funding to be directed to the actual cost of building and maintaining the state’s transportation system.
Advances in transportation technology, such as autonomous and connected vehicle and ridesharing services, have the potential to significantly reduce the cost of moving people and goods on our state and nation’s roadways, while dramatically increasing safety. Further, establishing Pennsylvania as a leader in the research, testing and development of these technologies will have a positive impact on economic development and further cement the state’s position as a leader in innovation and new technology. As such, the PA Chamber supports policy that encourages the research, development, adoption and deployment of innovative transportation technology, and opposes overly burdensome regulations that inhibit the adoption and use of ridesharing services.