Political Hurdle For VMT Fees Proves Too High For The Netherlands And Oregon

Two years ago a Dutch city embarked on a trial for distance-based pricing that placed a meter on the dashboard showing the price of the trip. The plan was scratched due to an election. In OR, VMT fee legislation for electric vehicles has stalled.
August 12, 2011, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Hooked up to the Internet wirelessly and to GPS, the (Dutch) system tabulates a charge for each car trip by using a mileage-based formula that also takes account of a car's fuel efficiency, the time of day and the route. (Driving on busier thoroughfares costs more than driving on less-traveled roads.) At the end of each month, the vehicle's owner would receive a bill detailing times and costs of usage, not unlike a cellphone bill".

The variable, vehicle-mile-traveled fees would have been less for most drivers than the 'fixed fees', including sales taxes and registration fees) and the gas taxes that would be replaced by the meter charges.

"Equally important, studies have found that the meters provide instantaneous negative feedback, the kind that psychologists say changes behavior". In other words, there was a reduction in driving, especially on congested roads where rates were higher.

Regardless of the cost saving to the motorist and the benefits to society, the political challenge remains formidable.

Thanks to Charles Komanoff

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Published on Thursday, August 11, 2011 in The New York Times - Environment
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