In recent decades, Congress has increasingly departed from user-pay systems, and instead requires users of some forms of transportation—primarily auto drivers—to pay for other forms of transportation—primarily public transit. In addition to being unjust, this policy has led to excessive construction costs and the selection of transportation projects whose costs far outweigh their benefits. One symptom of this misallocation of funds is the growing congestion in America’s urban areas.

Proponents of urban transit and intercity high-speed rail are using concerns about energy and global warming to promote the diversion of even more highway user fees to their favored forms of transportation. Yet these alternative forms of transportation are unlikely to save energy or significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.