San Francisco Begins Investigating Cost-Per-Mile Driving

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
san francisco begins investigating cost per mile driving

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. 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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9 of 128 comments
  • Chicagoland Chicagoland on Jul 24, 2012

    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.

  • Oldyak Oldyak on Jul 25, 2012

    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....

    • Multicam Multicam on Jul 25, 2012

      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.

  • Oldyak Oldyak on Jul 25, 2012

    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!

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    • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Jul 25, 2012

      @05lgt 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.

  • Ciddyguy Ciddyguy on Jul 25, 2012

    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.

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    • GS650G GS650G on Jul 26, 2012

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