The Iowa Department of Transportation continues to see an impact on traffic levels from gas prices.
The DOT’s Stuart Anderson says traffic had been coming back after the pandemic, but gas prices started making an impact.
“Definitely noticed back in April, started seeing some of those impacts of traffic in April of 2022 compared with April of 2019 — the prepandemic traffic levels in the state — was down four percent. And it’s generally been down three to four percent each month since then,” Anderson says.
He says the May number was not as negative as some of the other months, but that is believed to be skewed by people eager to get out and enjoy the Memorial Day weekend. “But in June is about three percent down, July four percent. And we just got the August numbers here yesterday and they’re down three percent,” Anderson says. “So we’ll see if September, October, November numbers start changing now that we’ve seen fuel prices drop a little bit at the pump.”
Anderson says the drop in travel isn’t enough to cause concern about road use taxes. “We benefit in that our state road use tax fund does not rely just on fuel taxes. It also consists of revenues from vehicle registration fees. And so that helps mitigate some of these fluctuations we see from time to time,” according to Anderson.
He says supply chain issues in the car industry have helped keep registration fees up. “We’ve seen numbers of vehicles sold, probably, on average, be lower than normal, that that’s been offset a bit by that high demand for vehicles means that vehicle prices have been higher, particularly used vehicle prices. And so the registration fees in Iowa based in part on the price of the vehicles,” Anderson says.
He says the increase in money to the road fund from the increase registration fees has helped keep the road use tax fund close to where they want it to be.