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Bay Area to Study Regional VMT Fee

The Bay Area's two regional agencies approved funding a study to pursue a 9-county "vehicle-miles-traveled" fee of as much as 10-cents per mile that could involve GPS technology to fund regional transportation improvements.
July 23, 2012, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Mike Rosenburg reports that the study of the regional VMT fee, approved for funding by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments on July 19, "is part of the long-term transportation and housing effort called Plan Bay Area, which also includes strategies like raising the Bay Bridge rush-hour toll from $6 to $8 and reducing the size of parking lots. The results are expected in December before the two agencies vote in April."

"The proposal is a long way from becoming reality. But under the scenario, drivers would likely have to install GPS-like trackers on their cars to tally travel in the nine-county Bay Area, from freeways to neighborhood streets, with only low-income people exempted."

The new fee "would likely need the OK from voters and the Legislature."

However, that wouldn't happen any time soon.

"A VMT charge is really an option for the future to be looked at and considered," said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency leading the effort. He said realistically the plan is so complex it might take a decade to implement if the public buys in."

Which would be just fine for Rosenberg's Bay Area News Group (pubisher of both Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News), which did not pull any punches in its editorial on July 18, the day before the ABAG-MTC meeting.

"We are totally blown away by the creative audacity of Bay Area leaders proposing a per-mile tax on driving, maybe as early as next year, using -- wait for it -- a GPS-like tracker in every car to measure the distance it goes and the time of day the miles are racked up."

Perhaps they did not take Mr. Rentschler at his word in terms of the time required to formulate a VMT Fee proposal, let alone the legislative and plebiscite requirements. Or they just want to kill the idea entirely - which didn't work.

Thanks to MTC-ABAG Library

Full Story:
Published on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in San Jose Mercury News
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