Video: Why U.S. Road Tolling Is So Complicated

States increasingly count on toll roads to supplement gas tax revenue, but why does the U.S. still lack national interoperability?

July 29, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Toll Road

Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock

A video from Cheddar News explores the complex road tolling system in the U.S. and explains why, despite a 2012 federal law that requires interoperability between toll systems, we still use dozens of different transponders across the country.

With 130 systems in 34 states, the U.S. toll road system is a popular way for states to supplement road maintenance revenue. First instituted in the mid 1800s, toll roads fell out of favor in the mid-20th century after Congress passed a fuel tax. Later, as more fuel-efficient cars led to less revenue from gas taxes, states once again began building toll roads to increase road maintenance funding.

Because the 2012 law doesn't impose any penalties for not achieving interoperability, states have worked to create regional passes that cover, in some cases, dozens of states, but the U.S. has yet to achieve national interoperability.

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