Tuesday, August 10
5-Ton Ford Festiva, 90-Pound Hummer (Or: Size Does Matter)
The California Performance Review transportation task force has recommended replacing the per-gallon gas tax with a per-mile charge. Addressed to the Sacramento Bee, here is a letter (which I wrote) that seconds a point made by the BATN moderator in response to the above-linked Bee article:
In attempting to improve statewide transportation funding, the California Performance Review (CPR) is missing an obvious solution. While fuel-efficient vehicles have long since lessened the gas tax's efficacy as a transportation funding source, the State needs only raise the tax to restore it to its past viability.
Instead the CPR transportation task force recommends charging users not by fuel consumed but by mile driven. Hence, light vehicles will pay as much to use the roads as heavy vehicles, which more greatly stress the pavement and consume far more fuel.
The traditional gas tax charges users according to their degree of impacts to the infrastructure. A per-gallon tax would indirectly charge users per mile driven, since fuel consumption increases as driving distance increases. CPR must recognize this option--a system more underutilized than obsolete--as superior to the unfair per-mile tax.
From the BATN online reprint of the Bee article:
"The gas tax is becoming less and less effective," said Borucki, who is also an executive with the California Transportation Commission. "We need to look at (other) options now."
[BATN: So just RAISE THE LEVEL OF THE GAS TAX! That's about a zillion times simpler... but being less technological, and not involving state-wide communications networks and tens of millions of GPS transceivers, it's also less ripe for multi-billion-dollar contracts, years of delay, and systematic fraud by politically-connected contractors. See the utterly dismal failure of the far-less-ambitious German "TollCollect" scheme for where this leads.]