By Tony Romeo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Responding to a complaint that mass transit in Pennsylvania’s urban areas is too heavily supported with state dollars, the state transportation secretary says motorists in those urban areas also subsidize roads in rural areas – and at a higher rate.

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State lawmakers in 2007 passed a two-pronged plan to raise new funds for transportation. One of those two prongs – tolling Interstate 80 – was shot down by the feds. Rural Republican John Gordner, during Senate budget hearings last week, had this complaint.

“There’s more money going to mass transit out of what’s left of Act 44 than roads and bridges,” said Gordner.

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But during the hearing, Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch turned the chronic complaint that the state disproportionately subsidizes mass transit on its head.

“We actually subsidize rural roads at a much higher rate than we subsidize mass transit. If you think about a two lane road – if it doesn’t carry at least 10,000 vehicles a day, it’s being subsidized.”

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Schoch says most rural roads carry fewer than 2-thousand vehicles. And he says most of Penn Dot’s revenue comes from vehicle fees and gas taxes; the lion’s share of which is paid by residents in Pennsylvania’s urban areas.