By on July 24, 2012

The San Francisco Bay area will investigate a proposal to implement cost-per-mile driving, as a way to raise money for public transit and road repair while reducing pollution and congestion.

MercuryNews.com reports that

“…drivers could be required to install GPS-like odometers or other devices in their vehicles and pay from less than a penny to as much as a dime for every mile driven. The idea could take a decade or more to be launched.”

The proposed mileage-based revenue collection would add an estimated $15 million per day to Bay Area coffers. Other proposals, like road tolls, HOV lanes and expanded public transit in suburban counties.

Before the Bay-Area stereotype diatribes begin, it’s worth noting that Atlanta has already investigated cost-per-mile driving…as well as locales in Oregon and Washington. Concerns about privacy and government monitoring were denied by one transit official, who was quoted by MercuryNews as stating “the last thing we’re interested in is where you go and what you do…”, but that’s unlikely to soothe any concerns about unnecessary surveillance.

As unpalatable as cost-per-mile driving is, this won’t be the last we hear of it, and it won’t be for the purposes of reducing greenhouse gas emissions - how do you think our roads will get repaired if people start using EVs or alternative fuel vehicles, and gas tax revenues plummet?

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128 Comments on “San Francisco Begins Investigating Cost-Per-Mile Driving...”


  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    It would be a lot cheaper and easier just to raise the gas tax. Afterall, the more you drive, the more you pay for the roads.

    Is this too easy??? Or are there ties to a tech company to install and operated the GPS tracking system?

    • 0 avatar
      njd

      A dime for every mile driven? For 100,000 miles that’s $10,000.

      I doubt it’ll ever come to fruition. It’s a gross violation of privacy, and there are so many more pragmatic approaches to charging people for using city roads. How about tolls? Or gas taxes as mentioned above? How about investing in research to develop roads that don’t wear out so quickly?

      • 0 avatar
        Off a Cliff

        Now use the full sentence: “… and pay from less than a penny to as much as a dime for every mile driven”

        (disclaimer: this is total speculation): The dime portion could kick in for certain areas at certain times, similar to a congestion tax. Otherwse I could foree the less than a penny-per-mile being the cost.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        “How about tolls”? This is a toll road proposition. It converts every public and private road within the designated area into a toll road. With far lass infrastructure investment than putting up toll booths or even electronic toll readers everywhere.

    • 0 avatar
      JK43123

      DING! DING! DING! DING! We have a winner! Yes the gas tax charges per mile, just increase it. Simple. Oh wait, that doesn’t create bureaucracies to lord over…..

      John

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Yes the gas tax charges per mile, just increase it.”

        A higher fuel tax should encourage smaller cars and discourage driving generally.

        A higher fuel tax won’t do anything to influence the time of day that you drive.

        The goal of congestion charges is to get you to modify your behavior, more than it is to raise money. If rush hour becomes more expensive, then that should encourage drivers to change their rush hour choices — they may choose public transit, or carpool, or adjust their schedules so that they can drive at a cheaper or free part of the day, or opt to use a different, less utilized route that costs less.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        But, but, but, how do we tax electric and CNG cars as their numbers grow (especially in places like the Bay Area) where they use the roads but pay no gas tax (or in the case of the Volt, Karma, and Prius Plug-In use very little gas).

        Just as anti-smoking initiatives gutted sin tax collection which hurt school funding in many states, the quest to drive up MPG or eliminate gas powered vehicles all together is having the unintended consequence of lowering the collection of gasoline taxes. Even if they raise the tax, in theory, you reach a point where you hit diminishing returns.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Pch101 – I disagree about the purpose of congestion charges. I think the primary purpose is definitely fundraising; any behavior modification is a coincidental bonus.

        Everyone isn’t on the road between 6am and 9am, then again between 4pm and 7pm because they find it fun to sit in traffic. That’s when employers want their people at work, and employers are often concentrated in the same areas (industrial parks, city centers). For me, the congestion itself is enough to discourage me from traveling during rush hour. I’m fortunate that my employer is flexible enough to allow me to shift my hours a bit to avoid the worst of it. If I have the day off, believe that I am not running errands during rush hour.

        Unless congestion charges lead to employers everywhere developing policies for flexible work hours and telecommuting so their employees can afford to go to work, people with day jobs are simply going to have to pay. Hence fundraising, not behavior modification.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “For me, the congestion itself is enough to discourage me from traveling during rush hour.”

        That obviously isn’t true for many other people, given the level of congestion. If the time wasted in traffic was sufficient to get people to change their behavior, then there would be no traffic.

        Traffic jams are an indication that many of us don’t place much value on lost time. Variable charging would make those peak periods more costly than they are now; if this goes through, then you’ll have to shell out extra cash to use a given route at a given time of day, on top of the time and gas lost. Theoretically, that should encourage some drivers to figure out ways to reduce the cost.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Pch101,

        This would be a really good time for you to figure out that you’ve been brainwashed into serving as a soldier in the war on the middle class. What you’re espousing is making car travel a privilege of the elite. What every progressive policy ultimately boils down to is an effort to reunite the middle class with the serfs, where they were no bother to the leisure class and won’t be again once they’ve been liberated from their cars, single family homes, jobs, food, and affordable energy. This effort is also known as environmentalism and sustainability.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        @pch101

        “That obviously isn’t true for many other people, given the level of congestion. If the time wasted in traffic was sufficient to get people to change their behavior, then there would be no traffic.”

        You are assuming people HAVE a choice other than drive, which I think in many cases just isn’t true, unless it comes down to changing to work at a job in a different location.

        There are dozens of reasons where non-driving simply doesn’t work in many, many more situations than it does.

        Punishing these people who simply don’t have any other choice doesn’t really solve anything.

        I’m from Chicago, one of the biggest cities in the US and the VAST majority of public transport doesn’t even run 24/7 5 days a week, let alone 7.

        There are a ton of places it simply _doesn’t_ even go! Even though rush hour is roughly 5:30am->9am and 2pm->6:30pm, the trains don’t even run every 15 minutes in some cases and the bus near me doesn’t even START until 6:15am (when I’m already supposed to be at my desk).

        Trying to change the behavior of people who have no other choice than switching jobs in a bad economy (many people can’t move due to contractual obligations with housing purchaes or rental contracts) isn’t worth spending effort on.

        I find it surprising so many people simply can’t understand this.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        CJ, I find it odd that guys like you find it necessary to consistently use over-the-top cliches to argue your positions.

        You must have fooled yourself into believing that it makes you sound eloquent. But it only makes you sound a bit nutty. OK, a lot nutty.

        (And if you were paying attention, then you would have noticed that I oppose the proposal. But I suppose that would be too much to ask.)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “You are assuming people HAVE a choice other than drive”

        They do have choices. They may not be optimal choices, but from an economic standpoint, those choices do exist.

        Traffic is a reflection of demand exceeding supply. The road that is free makes it possible to maximize that distortion between demand and supply, since the road users don’t have to pay anything to consume what is obviously a valuable resource.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        @pch: I’d be curious to see what you think those choices are, within the context of keeping the same job & housing, since for many people switching those 2 items are not a choice they have.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I’d be curious to see what you think those choices are, within the context of keeping the same job & housing”

        If you chose to have a house that is located far from your source of income, then that was your choice.

        I understand where you’re coming from — you want the benefits of suburban living with the income of an urban job. But you need to be honest with yourself and understand that you’re effectively demanding that everyone else subsidize your lifestyle choices with cheap transportation.

        By asking your fellow drivers to lose time with the congestion that you create and your fellow taxpayers to support the cost of roads that your fuel taxes don’t cover, you’re effectively asking to transfer your costs to other people. Using CJ’s jargon, that would be a “handout.”

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        @ pch:

        “If you chose to have a house that is located far from your source of income, then that was your choice.”

        What is far? Distance or time? I spend less time commuting, but more in traffic. At the time I bought my house in the “suburbs” (actually too far IMHO), I couldn’t even afford to _rent_ a 1br condo that was 2 blocks from work.

        Also: People generally change their living arrangements less often than they find jobs. Nobody works 20-30 years for a single company anymore.

        If you really think that buying & selling (or breaking rental contracts & paying huge fees) is a valid way to live your life every single year, then I don’t even know what to say.

        “I understand where you’re coming from — you want the benefits of suburban living with the income of an urban job. But you need to be honest with yourself and understand that you’re effectively demanding that everyone else subsidize your lifestyle choices with cheap transportation.”

        You don’t know me and you don’t know what I want. I’m not exactly sure what the huge benefits of “suburban” living are that you are referring to, esp since I’m not really an outdoorsy person (is that what you are referring to?).

        What I wanted when I moved was a place where I could live that my new car wouldn’t get keyed 3 times in 3 months.

        I wanted to live in a place where the chance of violent crime is/was much lower (Happened to two brothers in a “good” neighboorhood).

        I wanted to be able to put 20% down on a place @ purchase (Can’t do that in Chicago) so I wasn’t instantly upside-down a year after purchase.

        Nobody is subsidizing anything. I pay Federal, state, local, gas & toll-way taxes. I think I’ve paid more than my fair share (esp since road & toll taxes here in IL get raided for non-road repairs constantly — must be that there is extra $$ there.)

        “By asking your fellow drivers to lose time with the congestion that you create and your fellow taxpayers to support the cost of roads that your fuel taxes don’t cover, you’re effectively asking to transfer your costs to other people. Using CJ’s jargon, that would be a “handout.”

        I don’t create congestion. A single car never does. A group of cars do.

        See my above comments on taxes….I already pay more than my fair share.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “You don’t know me and you don’t know what I want.”

        Within the context of this discussion, I don’t need to know all of the gory details about your life.

        I do know enough about you to know that you want to consume roads at a low price. I also know we probably can’t afford to give them to you at the price that you want to pay, which can be quantified by the level of congestion.

        Every vehicle that sits in traffic represents demand for highway space. The acceptance of the low speed indicates that those road users are willing to trade time in favor of low speeds.

        Again, the alternatives to sitting in traffic may not be optimal to you, but that doesn’t change the larger point about the demand for the roads exceeding supply, and the ways in which you contribute to that excess demand.

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        @pch:

        If you are going to make statements such as

        “I understand where you’re coming from…”

        Then you BETTER know me to comment like that or your argument can’t be taken seriously.

        In “theory” everyone should “live next to work” — which really doesn’t even have any meaning with 2 job families, people switching jobs all the time due to the economy & being unable to switch housing quickly due to economy issues. In the real world this is almost impossible.

        The reality is that there will always be commuters BECAUSE nobody buys one house, has one job & then lives their life & dies.

        Most people don’t even live in the same CITY most of their lives (I know dozens) — people commute (or if it’s far enough — move) to where the work IS.

        You also say you don’t need to know the details of WHY People do things (which I explained in “gory detail”), but real people make life alterting decisions based on the details in their own lives.

        If you truly really believe that governments should just set a policy to encourage some “great ideal” which may never be achievable — well, I’m starting to feel like Don Quixote here….

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      The problem is that you’re wrong. It’s actually easier to implement a cost-per-mile driving tax than it is to increase the gas tax. Incredible but true. That’s how screwed up we are.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Very true about the gas tax. The federal tax was 3 cents in 1956, and was raised to 4 cents in 1959. It stayed that way until 1982, and has since crept up to 18.4 cents, still far below the three-cent tax adjusted for inflation. It’s just as tough to raise state taxes. California raised its tax from 7 cents to 9 cents in 1972, and it was raised to 18 cents in 1988.

        Efforts to raise it have failed, even though road construction/repair costs have outstripped inflation: a ton of asphalt cost $6 and a cubic yard of concrete $14 in 1972. Today’s prices are $55 and $120. Gas, excise and sales taxes used to equal about half the retail price of gasoline. Adjusting for inflation now would result in $7-$8 gas. What elected official will vote for that?

  • avatar
    wsn

    1) Using a gas tax would be the best implementation of ‘cost per mile’ tax. But of course, it’s clear that someone higher up was promised a large kick-back from the potential installer of the tracking device.

    2) EVs won’t be a major part of the cars for a very long time. Why worry about it now? By the time it’s a real concern, just tax electricity or tires. Even a 3 year old can think of that.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      Cost per mile is going to guarantee tax revenue no matter how fuel efficient cars become. Not even including EVs, the revenue from the gas tax will continue to go down as average MPG goes up. Cost per mile is a good way of starting over (as long as they get rid of the gas tax) and is *fair for everybody regardless of how big of a vehicle they drive

      *I am totally making up these numbers but here is an example
      -To drive 30 miles in any car with the cost per mile tax will cost $1.00
      -To drive 30 miles with the gas tax could cost $1.00 if you drive a car that regularly achieves 40 MPG (real world not EPA), but if you are a contractor/landscaper/any other tradesman and drive a 15 MPG truck, you have to pay $2.50

      At least that is how this is playing out in head

      • 0 avatar
        toplessFC3Sman

        yes, but driving those trucks causes more wear & tear on the roads & infrastructure since they are heavier, so this may not be quite as unfair as it seems.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        1) Fuel efficiency has nothing to do with stable tax income. If the government needs $10M, then collect $10M. The average MPG could be 10, 20, or 50. Doesn’t matter. Just change the tax rate.

        2) I don’t see anything “fair” with charging everyone the same regardless how big of a vehicle they drive. A big vehicle pollutes more and damages the road more and thus should pay more.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Then keep raising the gas tax to counteract the drop in gas-miles driven. Perhaps, eventually, when the gas tax hits say $10/gal and affects a very small portion of the population, there should be an odometer-based tax that is calculated when registration is renewed, and payable on installments like property tax.

      • 0 avatar
        ezeolla

        I stand corrected

  • avatar
    nikita

    Gov. Brown’s minions quietly just stole commercial vehicle weight fees from the highway repair fund in order to pay the interest on bonds sold to build “high speed rail” from Bakersfield to Fresno. That is one reason they are desperate for revenue. Also, plug-in hybrids, alternate fuel and electrics may not pay any fuel taxes.

    I dont understand how a city or county will be able to require everyone to have a GPS transpnder. So, if I dont live or work there and visit on vacation will there be toll booths at every exit from the Interstate?

    • 0 avatar
      Darth Lefty

      As it stands there are tolls on both the Golden Gate and Bay bridges.

    • 0 avatar

      They were always stealing car tax money for their pet projects. Last time I was in DMV, they even displayed proudly a poster with a pie chart showing how much money they stole (about 85% – 5% went to CHP and 5% to highway maintenance, 5% to small things I do not remember). If they stole only 50%, California would’ve had color displays at every junction and smooth concrete all the way from Eureka to San Diego.

      It’s very clear that they just want social engineering, not infrastructure improvements. If they could, they would just outlaw personal possession of automobiles outright.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Bakersfield to Fresno?

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Bakersfield to Fresno is actually the start of a project that will eventually connect San Francisco to Los Angeles. Final cost is currently estimated at about $60 billion.

        Wikipedia has an entry for this boondoggle if you are interested: http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ California_High-Speed_Rail

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Indeed, $60 billion is the estimate today. When this was put before the voters 2 years ago, the price tag was (I believe) $20 billion.

        No one knows how much this will cost, and the HSR authority has been playing it fast and loose with cost estimates immediately after they chose a logo and decided to pay the head of the HSR $300k/yr.

        The justification for rail? It will cut down on traffic congestion. I kid you not. That’s what they’re selling.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Indeed, $60 billion is the estimate today. When this was put before the voters 2 years ago, the price tag was (I believe) $20 billion.

        No one knows how much this will cost, and the HSR authority has been playing it fast and loose with cost estimates immediately after they chose a logo and decided to pay the head of the HSR $300k/yr.

        The justification for rail? It will cut down on traffic congestion. I kid you not. That’s what they’re selling. They never get around to describing exactly how it will cut down on traffic in urban areas where HSR will not be used.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      I bought the Red Car so I could DISMANTLE IT!

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    ok here’s how it goes where i am…

    gas taxes goes into general revenue

    registration pays for *some* roads but again.. you guessed it, most is general revenue

    i think we are still tied to a carbon economy and its unlikely we will hit an avg. 40-50mpg and/or Nissan Leafs that will make a difference on incoming gas taxes

    major highways is going into private ventures…that is expect to pay tolls for anything high speed

    there’s been a debate about “user pays per mile” OR the usual yearly registration but the reality is the economy is used to the current system (you can guess how couriers and non city dwellers take to ‘user pays’)

    in all likelihood they will move to a yearly rego AND user pays per mile

    user pays is fine for private folk who don’t drive much and it would actually work for people who want to have multiple cars but i doubt any sensible government will move to a system that that may result in LESS revenue or more overhead… i’m sure the state loves every car owner forking out $500 a year with barely any overhead

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Let me get this straight. So the government increases CAFE standards across the board to increase fuel economy, which is supposed to save consumers money at the pump and help the environment. They didn’t take into consideration that tax revenues would go down if people were buying less fuel?

    How is that going to help the consumer if they’re paying less somewhere (the pump) but now paying somewhere else?

    How about dump the whole CAFE standard and let the free market decide what the overall average fleet fuel economy is going to be based on what consumers demand and want. You know, that whole “free market” thing that supposedly is the backbone of the American economy.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The intent of CAFE is to reduce fuel consumption. The intent of congestion tolling is to manage limited space. You’re confusing apples and oranges here.

      The tolling concept is actually libertarian — the road’s owner sets a price for the road, and you can decide whether you are willing to pay that price.

      I personally don’t care for the level of intrusiveness, but the idea of reducing usage during peak times makes sense. They’re running out of space and can’t support an increasing population. If you don’t reduce driving in these areas, then you’ll just end up with more gridlock.

      • 0 avatar
        grzydj

        I lumped the two together because everybody was heaping praise upon themselves when they passed the new CAFE mandates saying it was a huge win for the consumer. What’s going to happen on a national level if and when everybody is trucking along at 54 mpg.

        Haven recently had the misfortune of driving in downtown San Francisco, I can see how a program like this might work in some areas. My problem to traffic congestion in downtown was to walk or take or take public transportation.

        I still don’t think double taxing people after they pay for toll roads, and fuel taxes is going to do anything to curb congestion.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “How about dump the whole CAFE standard and let the free market decide what the overall average fleet fuel economy is going to be based on what consumers demand and want. You know, that whole “free market” thing that supposedly is the backbone of the American economy.”

      That would only work if we could get the folks who bought an 8mpg Canyonero would just suck it up when the next oil crisis hits. But they won’t, they will demand the government bail them out of their own stupidity, and they will (as they always do) win.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “That would only work if we could get the folks who bought an 8mpg Canyonero would just suck it up when the next oil crisis hits. But they won’t, they will demand the government bail them out of their own stupidity, and they will (as they always do) win.”

        Whom do you know received a ‘bailout’? Sure the manufacturers may have gotten one, but I know of no customer who did.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        +1 28 Cars Later

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        28-cars-later,

        The “system” had to be bailed out due to American’s insatiable desire for cars and homes they couldn’t afford.

        It’s strange that you don’t think the public was bailed out. Who was going to get it the hardest if the banks, AIG and GM and Chyrlser etc. weren’t bailed out? The executives? Hell no, it would rank and file Americans who would devastated just like they were during the Depression.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Jmo I can see your argument and I suspect its the same argument that prevailed in Washington at the time. But I don’t think its as simple as Company X builds large gas thirsty products and Bank ABC lent too much money to deadbeats and then lost its shirt gambling.

        Most of my more vivid memories date to the Gulf War period (I was about 9), and since then the average person has had their wages significantly eroded by a combination of inflation, excessive taxes/fees, and financial crisis both in 2001 and 2008. The same sort of decent paying jobs which existed as late as 1990 are no longer there for a variety of reasons. Boomers/Gen X have kids, they want a family hauler and then later to send them off to college, ya know live the white picket fence dream just as their parents. Trouble is the rug got pulled from under them, and the reality is this is no longer possible for most people. So they went into massive debt financing their Suburbans, McMansions, and kid’s Art History degrees. They live far beyond their means no doubt, but at the same time their legitimate means were drastically reduced by forces beyond their control. I suspect this is the same sort of thing to a point which happened to the Big 3 automakers and some of the banking institutions. Granted I have little to no sympathy for a banking institution who got greedy and lost, but you get the idea.

        I think moving forward people are adjusting to the new reality of pay more and get less. I worry the bailouts will be endless unless we can get our economy really moving again… beyond WalMart jobs and government workers.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I have no problem with CAFE, just like I have no problem with laws that ban lead paint, require low sulfur in diesel, or mandate building codes.

        Although I would not buy bad products, we can clearly see in the Wal-Mart world, enough people (free market) *will* pick the combination of low-cost and hazardous. Yes, the free market is sometimes irrational and does not look out for its own best interests. I don’t realy care what other people do to themselves, except when it affects me. IMO, how much oil the nation consumes does affect me, so legislating a standard is ok.

    • 0 avatar
      Geekcarlover

      It’s called Base Line Budgeting, and yes they did NOT adjust future projections. It works like this. A state sells 100,000 packs of cigarettes per month, for example. If they pass a tax of $10 per pack they assume they will take in $1,000,000/month. They do not figure in the number of people who will quit smoking, or find alternate (tax free) sources. Stupid? Yes. But that is how it works.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      This is a win win for them, they get more money, more chances for kickbacks, and a warrantless universal tracking system to allow them to watch the enemies of the state.

      I defy them to show how this proposal produces any pluses for the citizens. To me it is one more step on the road to serfdom.

      Aux armes citoyens!

  • avatar
    JMII

    Why can’t they just do this based on odometer readings? Most cars have digital odometers so they don’t need another “GPS-like” gadget to track how far (or where) someone drives. At one point in time I though insurance companies required odometer readings to determine your rate based on miles driven. I assume weight of vehicle will be part of the calculation used to determine your fair share, similar to how toll rolls change based on number of axles.

    • 0 avatar
      Guildenstern

      Because this tax would only apply when you are in the bay area. It’s a road use tax not a car use tax, so they only care about how many miles you put on their roads.

    • 0 avatar

      Because people don’t just drive in the taxing jurisdiction. That’s why they need to know if you’re in San Francisco or Oakland.

      George Harrison was prescient. Expect a tax on shoe leather and bicycles too.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I have always felt that big brother was the family idiot.

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    And people really wonder why the younger generation is not as interested in cars as previous generations?! Not only has it become politically incorrect to drive cars these days (perhaps with the exception of the Prius and EVs), it’s also increasingly expensive to own and use them. Drivers are treated like criminals with fees such as “cost-per-mile” and road-tolls and whatnot, all of which are in reality tantamount to fines for having the audacity to drive a car. But not using the car is apparently no better, it turns out, due to extortionate rates on parking (with a significant financial punishment for drivers who park 1 minute longer than they’ve paid for).

    And it’s probably only going to get worse…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      “Drivers are treated like criminals”

      Criminals are treated better than drivers.

      The cops need a warrant to track criminals. This system is warrantless.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    You are witnessing another attempt at a money-grab. As more and more people are either out of work or work jobs that barely cover living costs, sometimes more than one job is necessary to survive, this is what you get. Those who still are fortunate to have meaningful work are becoming the minority. ALL governments are cash-strapped and have built such a social safety net, that the tax flow is drying up.

    You want fries with that?

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Seeing that SF is not the only town to look into this is a sign that this has at least someone discussing a solution to a problem. I don’t think it’ll work. Not sure what everyone has against GPS being placed on their cars. Most already have one (OnStar anyone?) that can, in times of emergency or criminal activity can be activated. As well as the mobile device that nearly everyone owns. Need to get past the thought of big Gummint following me ’round. I’m more worried about corporations intrusion into my life. The recent Rupert Murdoch “News of the World” scandal shows point-blank that Big Corporations have absolutely no compunction against invading personal privacy. Amazon is remarkably good at following me around cyber-space at every website that has advertisement.

    I agree that this is not a good plan. Its too complicated and in this day and age, rather archaic.

    Still what’s the big deal if I want to own a Leaf so I don’t have to pay gas prices/taxes? I’ll still end up paying for my use of the road through property tax, sales tax and other “fees” that local and state gummints target me for. If this really, really bothers someone’s propriety and inflated sense of fairness, then add a small electric car fee upon purchase to cover a potential years worth of gas tax.

    • 0 avatar

      The difference between corporate misdeeds and government intrusion is that the government is the ultimate monopoly. If I don’t like how Rupert Murdoch’s employees act, I can buy another newspaper or watch another tv network.

      Also, there’s a chasm of difference between me choosing to carry around a phone with a GPS and other location tech or choosing to have OnStar (or an insurance company’s OBD logger) and being forced by a government agency to have something installed on my car that reports my every movement.

      Why would you think that the human beings working in government are going to be any more ethical than humans working in the private sector? From how public employee unions act, it’s not like public sector workers are less greedy than those in the private sector.

      Where I go and when I go there is none of the government’s business.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Since you asked…it’s called the profit motive. Government employees don’t get a nice big bonus or commission for screwing their customers.

        That said, I agree with your last sentence 100 percent. Charge-per-mile is a lousy idea, but it doesn’t seem to be going away.

      • 0 avatar

        “Since you asked…it’s called the profit motive. Government employees don’t get a nice big bonus or commission for screwing their customers.”

        I think we can find enough embezzlers of public funds to show that there are rogues in the public sector as in the private. Kwame Kilpatrick anyone?

        I don’t think there’s a single person working for the government who is not taking a salary. Oh, right, Nanny Bloomberg in NYC takes a dollar. I think Dave Bing in Detroit also gives back his salary. But they are politicians. How many SEIU and AFSCME members work for free? None, that’s how many. Public employees, based on how they threaten to strike for more money, how their union leaders constantly negotiate for bigger salaries and pensions, are just as motivated by filthy lucre as those in the private sector.

        I don’t accept, like you apparently do, that the profit motive pushes those in the private sector to cheat and steal. However, if public employees are not motivated by profit, as you claim they aren’t, what does motivate them to do a superior job? From my encounters with public employees, I’d have to say that for a large fraction of them, nothing at all. There may be no incentive to work harder, but worse, there are no disincentives about working poorly. Public employees rarely get docked any pay, nor do they get fired, nor do they deal with most forms of accountability when they are incompetent or worse. Businesses do go out of business. That’s the ultimate in accountability. You screw enough customers, you go out of business. When was the last time a government agency was shut down?

    • 0 avatar
      bkmurph

      +1 dolorean

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      “Need to get past the thought of big Gummint following me ’round.”

      Why? Corporations don’t have SWAT teams.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      As of right now, corporations do not have the ability to arrest you, put you on trial, and throw you in prison.

      And it isn’t so much “Big Government” that I’m worried about as it is the local governments.

  • avatar
    Gannet

    TonyJZX gets it right. Gas tax revenues don’t pay to repair the roads. They go into the same pot as everything else, either explicitly or implicitly. All tax proceeds are fungible.

    Case in point: in Florida, the state lottery was sold to the public based on the fact that the revenue was going to be dedicated to schools. And so it is, by law. Did that result in an increase in overall school funding? Well, no. The funding out of other sources was reduced to match, and that money spent on other things.

    This business of government having thousands of different taxes is done for one or both of two reasons: to camouflage the overall tax burden, or to coerce behavior that it would not otherwise have the legal right to influence. The government has no business doing either in a free society. Government isn’t a business, and it isn’t my mother either.

    If there isn’t enough money to fix the roads, either raise taxes or find a cheaper way of fixing roads (repeal Davis-Bacon, for starters). Government surveillance should not be an option. And spare me the “oh, we would never use the information for THAT!” They lie.

    As a practical matter, how are they to enforce this? Will tourists be required to pick up such a device at the border?

    • 0 avatar
      Off a Cliff

      States and localities can do what they want, but as far as the federal gas tax is concerned, that tax is to only be used for transportation costs (roads, bridges, etc). There was a good article in other C&D or MT about it. Apparently that money is considered hands off in congress for other use….(/BeginRant) unlike social security (/EndRant)

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “States and localities can do what they want, but as far as the federal gas tax is concerned, that tax is to only be used for transportation cost”

        You are missing the concept of the fungible nature of money.

        Here’s an easy example: Suppose you put your household spending money into two cookie jars, one labeled “Food” and the other “Everything Else.”

        Let’s suppose that every month, you deposit $100 of your spending money into the “Food” jar, and the rest of your cash into “Everything Else.”

        Let’s now suppose that your typical spending on food is $150 per month. When you need the extra $50 for food, you just take it out of the “Everything Else” jar.

        It doesn’t really matter how many cookie jars you have in this situation. Since “Food” is always underfunded, having a special jar for it is just a formality.

        Such is the situation with roads. For every three dollars that we spend on roads, we collect only two dollars in fuel taxes. The roads are not self-sustaining. The money has to come from somewhere, and the taxes don’t come close to covering the cost.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Agreed, roads are underfunded and have been for years. I see two potential moves to make here, identify fat to cut out of other wasteful or bloated state programs, and examine how construction projects are currently [mis]managed to find points to improve. I think politicians see these grandiose construction projects as a way to pump money into the local economies, and care little HOW the monies are allocated. The devil is in the details.

        Accountability is key, and if this just isn’t how DOT operates then its time to thin the herd.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The ignorance and greed of entitlement voters is getting to be too expensive.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    Rapacious governments are always looking for new sources of revenue. Here in Old Viginny, we have the wonderful “Car Tax” that’s based on the KBB value of your car. Now they’re talking about putting tolls on I95. I guess Richmond wants to emulate New Jersey.

    If your car gets better gas mileage, they’ll tax your miles driven. If you switch to a motorcycle/scooter, they’ll have a special “Motorcycle Tax”. If you then switch to a bicycle, they’ll have a “Spoke Tax”. If you then decide to walk, they’ll have a special “Shoe Tax”. It will never end until we, the peasants, revolt.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      I’ve had driving days when I’d gladly pay for HOV lanes going past past Richmond.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        This gets down to axioms. In my opinion, public infrastructure exists for the equal benefit of all citizens, not as a special perk for wealthier citizens who have the means to pay extra to avoid inconvenience.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Steve65 The HOV lanes end/begin around Dumfries VA on I-95 South. I should have said I’d pay more taxes for HOV lanes to run past Richmond; “Common Good” and all that stuff. Traffic still sucks between DC and Fredericksburg.

  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    “How do you think our roads will get repaired if people start using EVs or alternative fuel vehicles, and gas tax revenues plummet?”

    Simple. Make THEM pay a cost-per-mile to drive.

  • avatar
    Guildenstern

    This proposal really bothers me. I know things need to be paid for, and I know the amount I get taxed doesn’t nearly cover all the stuff the Government does either directly or indirectly for me, especially as the cost for things rises, and the revenue from taxes declines.

    This proposal however makes me feel like my basic american freedom of movement is being compromised. I know intellectually when I fill my tank I’m paying a road tax, but it doesn’t quite FEEL like I’m being held accountable for my movements when I do that. This proposed system very explicitly connects what I do for joy with a directly correlated bill.

    I’m not doing well right now financially; if I had to directly face the connection between what I do for fun with a bill in black and white, I’m afraid my only reaction would be to curtail my driving. Driving is one of my primary hobbies, and while I’m already starting to see the writing on the wall as James May has said, that within our life time driving for joy may become a luxury only of the upper-class. This proposal feels like the first few bricks in that wall.

  • avatar
    George B

    San Francisco doesn’t need new infrastructure to collect tolls on a per-mile basis using new “GPS-like odometers”. It would be cheaper to convert some streets into toll roads and use existing toll tags.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      … and just how would you do that? San Francisco has two bridges which are already tolled, and two non-tolled overland freeway stretches heading south. Everything else is a surface street.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        It isn’t just the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge. While the headline and picture suggest this is specific to San Francisco, the article actually said the San Francisco Bay Area. This also means the Richmond, San Mateo, and Dumbarton bridges.

        As far as overland freeway stretches; in addition to 101 and 280, you have 880 and 580.

        This does reinforce your point that it is pretty hard to go anywhere without hitting a toll as it is. I just wanted to clarify the scope of the Bay Area and all the tolls involved, since you are the second person to mention on the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    The other issue at play is that raising “taxes” such as the gas tax is politically unfeasible, but raising “fees” somehow doesn’t raise the ire of certain political factions. This is a general issue rather than a local congestion-based fee.

    True story. Last week I visited Orlando, FL for a business meeting. When I visited the rental counter at the airport and the clerk saw my California driver’s license, he made this comment: “how can you live in such a corrupt state?” Confused, I asked him to clarify and he brought up the gas taxes we pay here, apparently we pay about $0.40 more per gallon than they do in FL. Of course, this isn’t all tax, but nevertheless, we do pay more for gas.

    I proceeded to rent my car and head out of the airport to my hotel… for which I had the pleasure of paying $3 in tolls to drive 15 miles. So, the Hyundai I rented got about 35 mpg but I paid $3 in tolls/taxes to drive on a publicly funded interstate freeway (partly funded by MY federal tax dollars, I assume), which more than doubled my per mile cost of driving in the non-corrupt State of Florida.

    At what point do these tolls cease being a tax and somehow become palatable? I don’t see the difference.

    What’s missing, IMHO, is an overall strategy to these issues. A tax per gallon of gas encourages one to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle… supporting our goal of using less fuel and polluting less, a noble goal. A use tax on the roads like the toll affects everyone equally, regardless of whether they drive an H2 or a Echo, but also increase congestion through all of the toll-booths and require staffing of said booths 24/7. I guess this method is immune to rising fuel efficiency issues and I suppose one could argue that the driver has a “choice” whether to use the toll-road or not. But that’s questionable… or encourages people to drive further and on more circuitous routes to avoid said tolls, thus increasing fuel usage and congestion.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “…but I paid $3 in tolls/taxes to drive on a publicly funded interstate freeway…”

      I’m wondering what road you we’re on. I-4 doesn’t have any tolls. Most likely you we’re on one of the state toll roads–SR528 or SR417.

      • 0 avatar
        stevelovescars

        I think it was 417… you mean to say that these roads were built without any federal or state tax dollars, only tolls to pay for them?

      • 0 avatar
        Robstar

        I chose a bad hotel “near” disney (didn’t realize how far it was — my fault) and I think over 5 days we gave $40 in tolls to the state of Florida (SR-417). Not only were the tolls annoying, but paying $0.50/$1 and having to stop & sit in line EVERY FEW MILES i worse than paying $3 once & being done with it.

        I’d much prefer a gas tax, since that means I really suffered in a sentra CVT with 2 women & an infant for nothing since the fuel economy doesn’t buy me any advantage with a road toll, but would with a gas tax.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Take the Tri-State toll road around Chicago. It’s been redesigned so I-pass drivers cruise through and the throwing quarters folks have to pull off and enter again. You can get an I-pass transponder when you rent from Hertz.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      FWIW, I don’t mind the toll roads because their traffic isn’t bad and I have a Sunpass so I don’t have to stop every few miles like the cash payers. The city really does put the screws to the people leaving the airport though.

      Just be glad you made it through your trip without getting robbed, stabbed, or running over a jaywalker.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Hey, if we don’t pay to maintain the roads and bridges, how are all those entreprenuers who DON’T BUILD THEIR BUSINESSES BY THEMSELVES, build their businesses, so that THEY can pay their fair share of taxes?

    When I read that sentence back, my head exploded.

  • avatar

    Cost per mile *replacing* the gas tax as a source of road-repair revenue? Perhaps. I’m not holding my breath, fully expecting to end up paying *both* going forward.

    And it’d be swell if the revenues, all of them, went to pay for roads / road repairs. Sadly, a growing percentage of this revenue gets siphoned off for various other transportation-related projects: light rail, streetcars, EV research, etc., the precise mix of course varying with whoever’s currently at the wheel.

    It was instructive to read a recent Secy of Transportation interview where this was discussed. Not that gas-tax road repair funds are siphoned off *at all*, as might have been the case 20+ years ago, but only discussed which projects and how much.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    I think the days of “See they U-S-A, in your Chevrolet” are definitely past us.

    A shame. I just got back from 5 days in Traverse City. Tourist traps aside, some of the more beautiful scenery in the country, especially the Old Mission Winery district on the Peninsula.

    We start taxing the miles to drive, and *poof* there goes the tourist industry, gone…eaten alive by the liberal, tax-sucking entitlement machine. All those seasonal workers in high-tourism areas? No worries, we’ll introduce them to their food-stamp and welfare case workers….

    • 0 avatar
      BlanketSlayer

      As a father of young kids, there are few things that excite me more than showing them this beautiful country via road trip. But as you said, if the trend of anti-driving continues, that may become more difficult.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      “I think the days of “See they U-S-A, in your Chevrolet” are definitely past us.”

      I think that you are wrong. Well, about the “See the USA” part. It appears as though not very many people are as interested in doing it in a Chevrolet as in the past.

      As a thought experiment, let’s look at an extreme case and say that the very highest tax rate in the original article is implemented on every road nationwide.

      So, every road in the US is 10c a mile at all times. Oh no!

      But wait, how much would this add to a 3000-mile coast-to-coast trip?

      Why, 3,000 x 0.10 = $300.

      This probably represents non-negligible cost for many people; but is not a major contributor to the overall cost involved in this sort of ambitious recreational road trip. Very likely, the fuel bill for the trip would be a larger expense.

      And remember, this is an extremely unlikely worst-case scenario where the highest possible toll mentioned is applied on every road nationwide. The actual cost would be much, much, lower than this.

      To use your example, a round-trip from Detroit to Traverse City is 500 miles. Again, if we assume a worst case $0.10 per mile fee on every piece of road in the country, the addition cost for this drive would be $50. Is this significant compared to the costs of a 5 day vacation in Traverse City?

      If worst-case costs of this magnitude prevent anybody from taking their family on a road trip, then they either don’t really want to do it very much or are in a financial situation where an extended road trip is wildly irresponsible.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        If you have a 25 mpg car, a 10 cent per mile tax is the equivalent of gas increasing by $2.50 per gallon overnight.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        “If you have a 25 mpg car, a 10 cent per mile tax is the equivalent of gas increasing by $2.50 per gallon overnight.”

        This is mathematically true, but it also does not represent a large value in absolute numbers.

        With a 25mpg vehicle, a $2.50/gal increase in fuel costs represents an extra $600 outlay for a coast-to-coast drive.

        If $600 prevents you from “seeing this beautiful country via road trip” then either:
        -You are actually not that interested in doing it.
        or
        -You are flat broke.

        And remember, absolutely nobody anywhere is proposing a nationwide $0.10/mile toll. We’re only performing these calculations as an indicator of a deliberately extreme worst case scenario that we arrived at by applying the absolute highest proposed fee intended for the most crowded or expensive roads to every piece of pavement in the country.

        The actual cost impact of a pay-per-mile scheme will almost certainly be significantly smaller, especially when considered in the context of a recreational road trip.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    These proposals were only a matter of time once the technology became available. And forget the assurances of privacy, that’s just too valuable a load of data to ignore.

    Starts at a penny a mile, dynamically adjusted for holidays, traffic conditions, political will, budget dilemmas, or environmental rules.

    Good luck out there.

  • avatar

    It’s not about fixing roads, it’s about paying public employees.

    How about legislation that puts GPS devices on publicly owned vehicles with public employees’ travel records put on the public record? I’d say that the public has a more compelling interest to know that public vehicles are being used appropriately than the need for some bureaucrat to know where I’m going.

    While we’re at it, how about tech that reports when publicly owned vehicles are left idling, wasting taxpayers’ money? To control pollution, government regulations are increasingly restricting semi truck drivers from running their engines all night long for HVAC purposes when stopped for the night, but public employees, particularly cops, rarely shut off their assigned vehicles’ engines if it means having to deal with cold or heat.

    Tar, feathers, pitchforks.

    • 0 avatar
      sco

      Oh boy, if you go this route, the public also has an interest to know that vehicles leased as a tax write offs by businesses are also being used only for business purposes. Enough of the spying, our real problem as I’ve noted elsewhere is that roads are becoming incredibly expensive to build and repair. A much needed 30 miles of new third lane added to Hwy 101 in my area (the alledgedly corrupt California) will end up costing nearly $1B dollars – 30 miles, a billion dollars!! Everyone wants roads and good roads, well guess what, they cost huge amounts of money and that doesnt fall out of the sky

      • 0 avatar

        The IRS and state treasury departments demand receipts and records if you’re going to claim a business deduction. There’s already sufficient government oversight there. Also, there’s a substantial difference between a vehicle that’s owned by the state for governmental purposes and the state allowing deductions for business purposes, which extend well beyond vehicles. If I write off a computer for my business, does that mean the gov’t should have access to all of my files?

        I just think that the public’s right to transparency in gov’t, and the public’s right to supervise the work of our employees should not be a quid pro quo giving government the right to supervise you and me.

        The truth is that gov’t employees already enjoy a privileged legal status in that they’re often immune from criminal and civil penalties if they screw up on the job. There’s a reason for the old saying, you can’t fight city hall.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The Romans built roads and conquered most of Europe, some of these roads still exist and are in use to this day. But in the 21st century the American superpower just can’t seem to figure out how to build long lasting roads at a reasonable cost.

        I reiterate Ron: Tar, feathers, pitchforks.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        Have you ever stopped to ask why 30 miles of road in CA costs a billion dollars, while in AZ the cost is less?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Very good point Ron. On a side note about five years ago when I worked for an engineering firm I got friendly with a programmer at Rhode Island DOT. One of her big projects was to develop a way to prevent road plow employees from entering too much overtime in the winter. They purchased GPS devices from a vendor for the salt trucks and she interfaced with an API the vendor provided to pull it into a database server, so the bosses had an idea of how long the trucks were out and where they had been. Saved the dept tens of thousands in 2007, but IIRC they eventually stopped using it after the unions kept complaining.

    • 0 avatar
      Sky_Render

      Many GSA vehicles already have GPS tracking in them.

      • 0 avatar

        I would expect the GSA to do so simply as a means of accounting for assets. Same thing with RFID tags on gov’t owned equipment. However, you think any agencies will let us have access to the GPS data?

        In Florida, when a newspaper cross-referenced toll booth transponder data with GPS data, they found out that cops were routinely speeding in non emergency situations, on and off duty, at speeds in excess of 100 MPH.

        Unless there are legitimate public health and safety issues involved, just about everything public employees do on the job should be an open book.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Then there is the issue of who must pay. Nonresident drivers can’t be required to have a car compatible with a particular tracking system, so residents will do whatever they can to avoid being classified as eligible (including fake residences outside the control area). Anyone who can’t avoid the tracking system will be envious of those who can, and people are divided over too many things as it is.

    I imagine that sufficiently antique cars will be exempted, and that the city will soon be filled with them.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      +1
      This sounds like law-of-unintended-consequences on a stick.
      I think the big question here is definitely “Who counts as a bay area resident?”, also, do you get taxed only for the miles you drive while in the bay area, or if you take a road-trip to the grand canyon do you still have to pony up?

  • avatar
    toomanycrayons

    “…unlikely to soothe any concerns about unnecessary surveillance.”

    The human-friendly biosphere is collapsing. What constitutes “unnecessary?”

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Perhaps they should put a tax on KY instead.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m surprised there already aren’t sin taxes on KY and other sex toys, unless I am mistaken. But cigs and booze well that’s bad for you so pay up right?

      Hypocrites.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        Is KY bad for you??

        Maybe they can tax those things that lead up to a KY moment such as thongs?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The official liberal argument about sin taxes I have heard, is the cost to society in the form of later healthcare and what not. Not to get too explicit, but all forms of sex have inherent health issues and potential costs to society. I’m just surprised the People’s Republic of Kalifornia isn’t profiting off of this with the sin tax argument, it actually would hold water.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      This is a disgusting comment and has nothing to do with the thread involved instead of leaving a hateful statement. Even for you Speed, this is a new low.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Distasteful? Certainly. Relevant to discussion? Nah. Disgusting? Maybe. Hateful? Not so sure. My reasoning is you could argue for a sin tax on things pertaining to human relations.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Why on earth should the people of Kentucky pay for roads in California? Sounds like they’d be getting rear ended in that deal.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    An interesting thread of comments, which illustrates the consequences of government disingenuousness. Back in the day, road use taxes (collected when people bought motor fuel were used exclusively for road construction and maintenance. They still are, at the federal level, because there is a “highway trust fund” into which these taxes are paid. If those taxes are insufficient to pay for road construction and maintenance, then the logical response is to (a) consider raising them and/or (b) consider why this is the case, e.g. the Davis-Bacon subsidy to union workers.

    However, once a so-called use tax is used to influence behavior directly (i.e. discourage driving) or is expropriated for other “transportation projects” (e.g. high speed railroads to nowhere — and Bakersfield and Fresno as pretty close to “nowhere — “heavy rail” projects, etc.), their purpose gets diluted and political gridlock often ensues, e.g. state legislator X admits that more money needs to be available to build and maintain highways but will not support a tax increase because some of the money gets siphoned off to urban rail projects . . . and he represents a rural district.

    Actually, I think people should consider the implications of “EZ-Pass” and similar electronic toll collecting systems. Toll booths are expensive to operate and create congestion. But high-speed EZ-Pass readers (such as exist on some of the highways in greater Chicago and are being installed on i-95 in Delaware) avoid both of those problems. Congestion-based pricing would be easy to implement on those roads, and on bridges and tunnels going into a congested city, like San Francisco.

    That seems to me to be a better idea that complete vehicle tracking.

    Of course, you could also use such systems to measure a vehicle’s speed between two toll collecting points and add a little fine for getting to the second point “early.”

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Back in the day, road use taxes (collected when people bought motor fuel were used exclusively for road construction and maintenance.”

      When Herbert Hoover’s administration imposed the first federal fuel tax, its intended purpose was deficit reduction.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Bruce In Wild, Wonderful West Virginia the EZ Pass lanes are all the way to the right. It’s always the longest line replete with semis. I just slow down and wave at the attendant in a more open lane.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      The conversion to Fastrak tolling is proceeding at dizzying speed. And it’s terrifingly easy to convert a free road to a toll road by putting up some sensors (to read the transponders) and cameras (to catch the “cheaters”). Government LOVE tolling like this, because it divorces the payment from the decision. Drive down the road, get a bill in the mail weeks later. Not like the immediacy of rolling down the window to hand over a (ever larger) bill. There will neve be a new toll booth built in the SF Bay area.

      The Golden Gate bridge is planning to phase out all human toll takers by the end of the year. To “save money”. (Wanna save money? Stop spending my toll revenue to subsudize a bus and ferry system that is almost entirely devoted to transporting rich people form outlying bedroom communities to the San Francisco Financial District.) At that point my options will be:

      Give the GGBHTD an interest-free loan in the form of Fastrak.
      Give the GGBHTD an interest-free loan in the form of a prepaid “license plate account”. Which will function exactly the same as Fastrak, but doesn’t get the $1 “discount”. (I foresee a surge in plate theft and front plate enforcement.)
      Do neither, and get a bill in the mail including a penalty for declining to lend my money to a corrupt quasi-governmental agency interest free.

      There’s apparently also going to be some sort of “stop in the middle of my trip, go to a convenience store, and buy a one-time toll pass” option, but I’m not clear on how that one will be managed.

      I had a Fastrak account years ago. All local tolls are charged in whole dollars. All deposits to the account were made in whole dollars. The deposit for the device was charged in whole dollars. There were no associated fees or charges that came with it. Somehow, I ended up with a $23.40 balance. I will never give Fastrak control of another dime of mine.

  • avatar
    spartan_mike

    In Chicago we have open road tolling on most of the toll roads, so there are usually 2-3 lanes to the left that have sensors above and you drive through at highway speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      The state of Illinois has I-pass transponders on sale everywhere. It’s real handy to buy your transponder at a store in a strip mall and install it while you’re in the parking lot.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    If this happens things like pizza deliveries will stop or they will go up in price, our freedoms are slowly being taken away from us.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Your money isn’t really yours. It even says “US Treasury” on bills, just to remind you it’s really the government’s money.

      The rights you have are not guaranteed if they can be taken away, which is what is happening.

  • avatar
    pdog

    If this leads to congestion-based pricing, it might make a lot of sense. I believe that the congestion on the SF Bay Bridge improved overall when they started charging $1 during the commute and $1 less outside of commute hours.

    In general I support the idea that cars/trucks/drivers should bear the cost for maintaining the roads, rather than taking it out of some general fund. That being said, if this is to fund the roads, shouldn’t it be based on the weight of the vehicle, since heavier vehicles tear up the roads more?

    One thing is certain – California’s highways are in appalling shape. It always amazes me how much the pavement quality increases as soon as you cross the border. Nevada seems to have particularly nice pavement; perhaps California just needs more casinos.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Two points. First, when this law is written I can guarantee San Francisco’s elected officials and most ranking city employees will be exempt while on “official business”. Which will be always.
    Second: California and most of it’s cities are effectively bankrupt. They are desperate, drowned man reaching for a rope DESPERATE, for cash. Anything that might bring it in will be tried.

    • 0 avatar
      sohc2

      You got it!

      San Francisco, in their rush for cash under the guise of “congestion relief” is planning to both blanket Golden GAte Park and neighborhoods near the ballpark with meters *and* implement Sunday meter enforcement. Sunday. Really.

      This consolidated City and County’s budget is an eye-watering $7 Billion per year. No typo. Per Year. It also has roughly 825,000 residents. It sits on 49 square miles. It’s smaller than Chicago both by population and area, and has the mildest winters bar perhaps Los Angeles. No ice, no snow.

      It’s Bored of Stupidvisors, on the third try, convinced enough voters to pass a $250 Million dollar bond (one of many) – for get this – street repair, the funds for which are insufficient ($10-15 Million per year) in the aforementioned $7 BILLION budget. The backlog of DPW work is in the $500 Million range. Neglect, deferred maintenance, incompetence, you name it……..

      It is, quite simply, the worst-run city in the country. Don’t take my word for it, you can read all about it if you like in one of the hometown Frisco papers:

      http://www.sfweekly.com/2009-12-16/news/the-worst-run-big-city-in-the-u-s/

      if there was ever a case for “not one more dime” SF takes it, hands down.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        All of CA is run this way. We’ve had 3 cities file for bk in the last 45 days. The city of Compton said they were likely going to file bk, but then say no. I guess they found some quarters in the sofa cushions.

        Same for LA. The city Chief Admin Officer has said LA is speeding toward bk because of out of control spending and lack of budget transparency and oversite.

        When even the lefties are saying ‘wake up and stop living beyond your means’, you know it’s bad.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    Just glad I don’t live in California! It’s to force high speed rail, even if it loses money. So the latte swillers in expensive beach houses can feel good.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    why not counter the $7500.00 tax credit for EV`S with a $5000.00 “You don’t use gas but you use the roads” tax.
    To simple….

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      I was wondering when someone was going to bring this up. I understand that this is a local situation and the tax credit it federal, but just think about it in this sense: how bout they just don’t get a tax credit? Right now EV buyers aren’t paying a gas tax and they’re getting a tax credit to do it.

      As mentioned above, this is a local issue because they’re broke.

      What bothers me and I would assume a lot of people about this is the psychological effect this would have on people while driving. With a gas tax I pay $55 dollars to fill up my vehicle and think to myself “ok, I’m good for a while.” Ever notice how your resolve to drive more conservatively to save gas is always stronger right after filling up? Anyway, later if I decide to go for a joyride I can do it without a running tally in my head of how much this is costing me. Once my tank goes empty I’ll worry about it then. I just don’t want every mile to be accompanied by floating dollar signs in my head. Having to pay for gas is bad enough at that.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    why not counter the $7500.00 tax credit for EV`S with a $5000.00 “You don’t use gas but you use the roads” tax.
    To simple….
    And honestly can`t California once and for all just be kicked out of the United states and made its own country,and quit bleeding the rest of us dry.
    It would make a great tourist trap!

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      oldyak; I’m not Californian right now, but they are rather consistently one of the top 10 federal tax donor states (they pay more than is spent there). Much more likely they’re buying your stop signs than the other way around.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        This is true, but that has little to do with the financial illiteracy of CA’s leaders and voters, and subsequently, little to do with CA overcommitting to it’s public employees and under-delivering to it’s tax base.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    All interesting talk, Washington State has some of the busiest roads out there, especially in the Puget Sound Corridor and to beat rush hour, you have to leave work by no later than 2pm, preferably by 1pm as by 3pm, rush hour begins and traffic begins to back up.

    This is especially true between Everett to the north and Olympia to the south along I-5 and any major arterial in that general area is almost as bad.

    That means SR 167, SR 161, SR 512, Highway 18 towards Federal Way, old Highway 99 may be affected to in places and interstates 90 and the 405 all get affected and then we have the smaller stub highways and little highways in there too that connect up to these major arterials.

    Last Friday, I left work at 3:30pm to head out to the coast and normally, from work it should take about 3.5Hrs but with an airshow going on at the joint military bases just south of Tacoma, traffic was horrendous. Just worse than usual and by the time I got to the cabin, it was 5 hours later, arriving by 8:30 or so.

    And by 5:30, I was barely in Puyallup, which is east of Tacoma and I still had to get onto SR 16 to the peninsula where I was taking a round about route to Highway 8 that would take me to Aberdeen and Hoquiam that then allowed me to connect up with Highway 109 that took me out to the coast.

    It’s the entire region and Seattle is now rated at #4 as of the latest rankings.

    I’m all in favor of finding ways to reduce congestion, even if it means changing driving behaviors so we reduce the mass exits from work between 3-5pm and we do have 2 toll roads, one for a new floating bridge, the other is paying for the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge span that opened in 2007 and we have a HOT lane on SR 167 that varies the toll depending upon the time of day, more so during rush hour, less at off peak times and this HOT lane is if you want to drive in it solo, you have to pay, using a transponder, or they simply photograph your license place and send you the bill in the mail.

    They do this on SR 520 floating bridge that is in construction now (bridge is still there and will come out when they are ready to assemble the new bridge) and it’s also a variable toll. The toll on the Narrows bridge is fixed at $4, but only for the new span as it is Eastbound only so you pay to head back into Tacoma but don’t have to pay if you go onto the peninsula via the old span.

    It’s called Good to Go! and it’s a transponder type of system that seems to work well and you get a reduced toll for using your transponder, but if you don’t use one, it’s the full rate. I think they will be adding the license plate readers to the bridge at some point here if they haven’t already to allow for reduced congestion for non Good to Go users (such as out of state residents) or at least I’ve heard talk of retrofitting the booths for this.

    SR 520 has the cameras to read your plates if you don’t have a transponder so no toll booths there to slow up traffic.

    I think this system works great, just as long as they don’t screw up accounts and the monies actually go towards the costs of the project it’s intended for.

    This may well be the way to go, it’s less intrusive and less adding of technology to older cars and the transponders simply get affixed to one’s windshield.

    I know they are talking about tolling the new Alaskan Way tunnel that is about to begin digging beginning next year. The problem is that there are so many other alternatives that people will simply avoid using the tunnel if they can, causing congestion on surface streets.

    But that all being said, we need to fix our roads, even I-5, built in the 1960′s primarily is wearing out and has been for several years now and they can only do small sections at a time.

    So some kind of system needs to be implemented, and an assurance that the monies raised for such projects only goes to repair our infrastructure.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Umm, it’s been said in a few ways above, but maybe reading Dilbert from February 19, 2006 will help. Federal taxes/fees are federal taxes,state taxes/fees are state taxes, local taxes/fees are local taxes. A dollar is a dollar, and it unless it’s your only dollar it won’t be spent in a specific location.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      If we need to reduce rush hour traffic we could just lay people off.


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