Former Sec’y Transportation LaHood outlines his view of future transportation systems in US, calls for 10-cent boost in gasoline tax
In a recent talk at the Mobility Lab event “People First: the Future of Transportation in America,” former US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood suggested that in the next 25 years, America’s highway system will be replaced in large part by a crisscrossing network of passenger rail lines; that the automobile will be replaced by autonomous vehicles; and that alternative modes of transportation such as biking and walking will be more prevalent. He also called on Congress to raise the gasoline tax $0.10 per gallon and index it to provide a source of funding for major projects such as rail.
LaHood also referenced the Highway Trust Fund as a good starting source of funds, but said it should be supplemented by a vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) tax, tolling, and public-private partnerships operating to cover the shortfall.
Both LaHood and Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) President Josh Kavanagh used the Mobility Lab event to call repeatedly for increased use of “transportation demand management (TDM)” practices in the United States. Kavanagh said the impact of transit-oriented development, Complete Streets, and other implementations of TDM are “profound” in jurisdictions where they are used.
LaHood went further, suggesting that the US needs “more Mobility Labs,” recognizing the organization (currently the only one of its kind in the US) as a democratizing force and “example of extraordinary changes” that are taking place in our country. LaHood said there is a need for at least “four or five” Mobility Labs in key markets in the US, and he encouraged the company to seek private equity funding to make that happen.
LaHood told the audience that if Eisenhower had signed a “Passenger Rail Bill” rather than the Federal Highway Act that created the Interstate system, then America would look much different than it does today. LaHood envisioned a future America that looks, transportation-wise, more like Europe.