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.

More on Urban Growth and Transportation


Regulation without Results

By Peter Van Doren. U.S. News & World Report (Online). March 27, 2017.

Don’t Check the Bill of Rights at the Airport

By Matthew Feeney. March 20, 2017.

California’s Cap-And-Trade Train Wreck

By Patrick J. Michaels. Orange County Register. March 17, 2017.

Cato Studies

Privatizing U.S. Airports

By Robert W. Poole Jr. and Chris Edwards. Tax and Budget Bulletin No. 76. November 21, 2016.

The New Feudalism: Why States Must Repeal Growth-Management Laws

By Randal O’Toole. Policy Analysis No. 802. October 18, 2016.

Reforming Air Traffic Control

By Chris Edwards. Tax and Budget Bulletin No. 74. February 17, 2016.


Taking Illinoisans for a Ride

Randal O'Toole. Transportation Brief. July 2009.

Public Filings

Flytenow, Inc. v. Federal Aviation Administration

By Ilya Shapiro, Berin Szoka, Randal John Meyer, & Thomas W. Struble. Legal Briefs. July 25, 2016.

Managing Federal Lands

By Randal O’Toole. Testimony. February 9, 2016.

Midwest Fence Corp. v. U.S. Dept. of Transportation

By Meriem Hubbard, Ralph Kasarda, Ilya Shapiro, & Trevor Burrus. Legal Briefs. June 2, 2015.

Cato Reviews & Journals

A More Optimistic View

David R. Henderson. Regulation. A More Optimistic View.

Regulation at 40

Peter Van Doren and Thomas A. Firey. Regulation. Regulation at 40.

Toward a New and Improved Regulatory Apparatus

Cato Handbook for Policymakers. Toward a New and Improved Regulatory Apparatus.


Housing Crisis: Should Urban Areas Grow Up or Grow Out to Keep Housing Affordable?

Featuring Randal O'Toole and Vanessa Brown Calder. November 29, 2016. Policy Forum.

Zoning Rules! The Economics of Land Use Regulation

Featuring Mark A. Calabria. October 15, 2015. Book Forum.

Will the Transportation Security Administration Follow the Law?

Featuring Jim Harper and Peter Russo. September 25, 2015. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Public Housing and Rental Subsidies

By Howard Husock. February 2017.

Privatizing Amtrak

By Chris Edwards. October 2016.

The Forest Service

By Randal O'Toole. July 2016.