The Looming Era of VMT

The gas tax is becoming an increasingly outdated and unsustainable idea. This piece from Miller McCune looks at the prospect of replacing it with a tax based on vehicle miles traveled.

"What's needed now is not a higher gas tax, but a whole new way of looking at how we pay our fair share for using public roads. The report's authors home in on what has become the consensus favorite solution of transportation wonks. We shouldn't fill road coffers according to how much gas we buy, but how many miles we drive.

The gas tax has ceased to function in the way it was originally intended - as a user fee (by sparing us their tail-pipe emissions, this means those 50-mile-per-gallon Prius drivers are also not really paying for their full use of common roads). Today, the most accurate measure of use is what's known as Vehicle Miles Traveled."

Some argue that the success of variably-priced vehicle tolling is a sign that charging by the mile would not be a political bomb.

Full Story: Miles Not Gallons Could Be Key to Road Upkeep

Comments

Comments

Per mile, or per ton-mile?

Since pavement damage is a factor of axle weight to the 4th power, the per-mile charge should increase with registered weight. On the other hand, two 40,000 lb trucks may cause more congestion than one 80,000 lb trucks.

Agree with other commenters

Agree with other commenters that a fuel tax proportional to use is much better than a VMT tax. Should be applied to all hydrocarbon based mobile fuels - including ships, trains, jets and off road uses. In those states which have not already substantially increased fuel taxes, a $.25 per gallon increase, followed by inflation and fleet average adjustments, would encourage all of us toward better market driven behaviors. Though the fuel tax proceeds should all be used with great transparency for transportation improvements - perhaps allocated simply on a population basis - communities, regions and states should be free to use the proceeds on those transportation improvements and expenses they deem most appropriate - including maintenance and repairs as well as transit walk and bike facilities.

Cheers, Wig

Irvin Dawid's picture
Correspondent

add me to Gas Tax chorus - VMT Fee later....

Here's another reason to support gas tax increases, be they traditional excise taxes, or an alternative - can I call them AASHTO increases?

The main reason to support the VMT fee or gas tax increase is to raise transportation/infrastructure funds as they have been declining. On another front, how much are the feds investing in green cars and green fuels? By NOT taxing gasoline/diesel, alternative-powered vehicles get a built-in incentive, as opposed to an explicit credit.

How many thousands of $ per vehicle is the government now GIVING consumers to buy EVs? And it doesn't stop there. How many hundreds of $ are they giving EV motorists to install quick-charging infrastructure in their homes?

How Long Does it Take To Charge an Electric Car?. I think it costs about $3000 to have the electric capacity to do an overnight charge (a 220/240-volt charging dock) - otherwise it takes 'far, far longer" to fully recharge using a 110/120-volt outlet.

It MAKES NO SENSE AT THIS TIME TO SWITCH TO A VMT FEE WHEN THE GOV', ON 1 HAND, PAYS CONSUMERS TO PURCHASE ELECTRIC CARS AND THEN DENIES THEM THE INCENTIVE BY SWITCHING TO A VMT FEE!

Just do the obvious - raise the gas tax, and eliminate the EV credits!

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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