Sunday, February 7, 2010

Racking up miles? Maybe not.

I smell a rat here. The government says conserve, but if you do they will tax you.
Within a few years, a driver who pulls up to the gas pump may pay two bills with a single swipe of the credit card: one for the gas and the other for each mile driven since the last fill-up. ¶ That may be the result of what many transportation experts see as an inevitable revolution in the way Americans pay for their highways. ¶ The flow of the gas tax pipeline that has poured cash into one of the world's premier highway systems has slowed as some people drive less and others choose more fuel-efficient vehicles. Maintaining that aging network and tackling the rush-hour congestion afflicting most cities will require billions of dollars. As gas tax revenue dwindles, federal and state lawmakers have an option created by innovative new technology: charge the nation's 201 million drivers for every mile they travel.
That prospect was raised last year by a congressional commission, a Brookings Institution report and a highly regarded nonpartisan transportation research group.

In 2008, then-U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters warned a Senate subcommittee that the "fuel tax is unsustainable in the future."
"Virtually every economist who has studied transportation says that direct pricing of road use, similar to how people pay for other utilities, holds far more promise . . . than do traditional gas taxes," she said.
But getting the public and its elected officials to accept that idea may be a tough sell.
It is a change that could spark more debate than health-care reform, as federal and state policymakers weigh the use of pioneering technology against expected opposition from those who fear an invasion of their privacy and view paying per mile of road use as a form of taxation. Read more.

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