Los Angeles (April 10, 2008) – The Pennsylvania Turnpike is one of the country’s least cost-efficient toll roads, spending a whopping 62.4 percent of its toll revenues on operating and maintenance costs. Of 35 toll roads studied, only the Massachusetts and West Virginia turnpikes spend a higher percentage of their toll revenues on operating costs, according to a new report by the Reason Foundation, a free market think tank that has advised the last four presidential administration on transportation issues.
By comparison, the New York State Thruway has 51 percent more lane miles and handles 83 percent more vehicle miles traveled than the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but its annual costs are $39 million lower.
Over the last seven years the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s operating costs have more than doubled from $181 million in fiscal 2000 to $370 million in fiscal 2007. During that same time, the U.S. inflation rate was 23.4 percent, so the Turnpike’s costs grew at 4.5 times the rate of inflation.
“Anyone who doesn’t believe competition can make the Pennsylvania Turnpike a better, more efficient road is kidding themselves,” said Robert Poole, co-author of the report and director of transportation studies at Reason Foundation. “The data strongly suggest that a world-class toll road operator could generate substantial cost savings-which means they could afford to pay a premium to the state to lease the Turnpike.”
Let it suffice to say that Libertarians can’t help but question the real purpose of government-claimed monopolies on things like roads, education, and other services deemed too “vital” to be up against the free market for competition induced efficiencies.Â Â In the end, these government monopolies are vast benefit systems for loyal voting unions and the clients of effective lobbying efforts. The taxpayer is sucker holding the bill, and that bill is increasingly coming due — just like all free lunches from politicians.
Yet Pennsylvanians choose to keep this system as it is by continuing to vote for democrats and republicans who simply toss the ball of power back and forth with little change from year to year.Â It goes only to prove the warning that democracy is the theory that the people deserve to get what they want, and good and hard.
That’s why the U.S. is supposed to be a liberty protecting republic, and not a system that rewards those who can wrangle power and money for themselves at the parasitic trough.