Super-Interesting Changes in The Amount of Driving We Do

Vehicle Miles Travelled Forecast ComparisonWSDOT released a new forecast of gas tax revenue based on a new forecast of how much people are likely to drive in the future. Less.

There are a lot of factors that drive this change, and you can read more about them on Sightline, The Seattle Times, or the actual wonky report itself, published by the Office of Financial Management.

This is a major change in how we look at the future, and will have big implications. Basically, raising the gas tax by a penny will get you a lot less revenue. Of course, you won’t have to build as much highway infrastructure if it’s true, so maybe that will work itself out. I think the uncertainty leads us to depend less on borrowing against the projected revenue stream. If we were to increase the gas tax and not borrow against the new stream of revenue we would build fewer projects at the beginning, but have more flexibility in the future to respond when we see how drivers really behave.

Changes my thinking some about how we should build a transportation package and what should be in it.

About the Author

Ross

I am the Director of the Department of Early Learning for Washington State. I formerly represented the 48th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives, chairing the Appropriations committee and spent many a year at Microsoft.

1 Comment on "Super-Interesting Changes in The Amount of Driving We Do"

  1. Ross,
    I’d like to see you ask WS-DOT to give you their forecasts for the past 15 years and then compare them to what actually has happened in terms of miles driven. My understanding is that WS-DOT has been dramatically overestimating the demand for many years.
    Some of the projects we have been building are totally insane, and the Alaskan Way tunnel is at the top of that list. It won’t serve nearly enough trips to warrant the expense. While some of it is a sunk cost already, given that the machine is stuck and could get stuck again, it’s time to reconsider whether we aren’t better off with the surface/transit solution.
    And beyond that, let’s get WS-DOT focused on maintaining existing roads rather than expansion.

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