In the US there is a tax on gasoline and the revenues from that are used to pay for road and bridge repairs and maintenance. But revenues from this tax have not been keeping pace with needs due to Congress not being willing to raise the tax to keep up with inflation coupled with more fuel efficient cars and electric cars on the road, resulting in less consumption of gas. While the latter is a good thing in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, it means that much-needed infrastructure repair is not being done.
One solution that is being proposed is to switch from a gas tax to a mileage tax where people would be charged by the number of miles driven rather that the amount of gas consumed. This requires placing of a tracking device on the car and pilot projects have begun in several states, Oregon being the leader.
The federal government is about to pilot its own such program, funded by $125 million from the infrastructure measure President Joe Biden signed in November 2021.
So far, only three states — Oregon, Utah and Virginia — are generating revenue from road usage charges, despite the looming threat of an ever-widening gap between states’ gas tax proceeds and their transportation budgets. Hawaii will soon become the fourth. Without action, the gap could reach $67 billion by 2050 due to fuel efficiency alone, Boston-based CDM Smith estimates.
Doug Shinkle, transportation program director at the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures, predicts that after some 20 years of anticipation, more than a decade of pilot projects and years of voluntary participation, making programs mandatory is the next logical step.
I had one of those mileage device in my car for about six months a few years ago. It came from my insurance company and it was used to determine how many miles I drove on average, as well as how I drove, so as to set my insurance rate based on my actual use. I had to plug it into my car’s computer during that time.
There are many advantages to this system. It can be used to more finely tune rates and can be easily changed to meet changing needs and conditions.
[San Jose State University’s Mineta Transportation Institute] has conducted national surveys every year since 2010 and found growing support for mileage-based fees, special rates for low-income drivers and rates tied to how much pollution a vehicle generates, she said.
It can also be used to control traffic in highly congested areas. For example, some cities like Singapore and London have a congestion charge for the central city that cars have to pay when they enter that region that seems to have been somewhat successful in reducing the number of cars there.
The standard charge [in London] is £15, every day from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, for each non-exempt vehicle driven within the zone, with a penalty of between £65 and £195 levied for non-payment… Enforcement is primarily based on automatic number-plate recognition.. The standard fee is £15 per day if paid in advance, by midnight on the day of travel, or if registered with Fleet Auto Pay or CC Autopay, an automated payment system which records the number of charging days a vehicle travels within the charging zone each month and bills the customer debit or credit card each month, or £17.50 if paid by midnight the third day after travel
Having devices in cars that track mileage automatically would make it easier to collect money, like the way that transponders currently automatically charge fees for bridges and toll roads to credit cards.
I can see people, especially in the US, initially being resistant to having a device on their cars that tracks their movements, seeing that as the first step towards a takeover of the country by communists led by George Soros, Bill Gates, and the Illuminati. Of course, our movements are already tracked now by the mobile phones we carry around with us that gives us real time traffic information as we drive. But people tend to ignore that.
But I suspect that as the movement gains ground, there will come a time when auto manufacturers will be required to build these devices into cars and they will become just another background feature.