Car advocates take note; traffic congestion cost Americans untold hours and over $100 billion in wasted fuel in the past year. That’s 1.9 billion gallons of fuel gone, wasted, used for nothing more than idling and getting a big fat 0 for mpg. That is money out of our pockets, ladies and gentlemen.
The new report from the Treasury Department lays a lot of the blame at the feet of the government. Poor road maintenance costs urban drivers an annual average of an additional $400 in extra repair costs. San Jose residents pay the most for their crappy roads, an average of an extra $746 per year.
To properly bring American infrastructure up to code would cost an average of $85 billion per year for the next 20 years. Like it or not, that means raising the tax on a gallon of gas, which at least on the Federal level has not been touched since 1993.
But that doesn’t mean getting around is cheap anymore. For every $7 the average American earns, $1 goes back into transportation. That works out to about $7,600 per year, more than food and health-care costs. Yet the government spends less than 2% of its annual GDP on infrastructure, less than most other developed countries…but we spend way, way more on our military. Funny that.
There are a few bright spots though. Since 1996, mass transit use is up about 30%, largely in response to increasing gas prices. And the fuel economy of new cars is on the rise, as Americans shift to more efficient models. But as long as American has an over-reliance on highways and oil, we will continue to feel the pinch of gas prices every time a Middle Eastern dictator rattles his saber or a hurricane knocks out an oil refinery.