Pay-per-mile road tax has too many problems

In regard to Melissa Slager’s Jan. 2 column about the”pay per mile” pilot program (“Nine months as a guinea pig for pay-by-the-mile tax study”), there are many other negative aspects of this potential proposal by the Transportation Department besides the privacy issue.

First of all, Reema Griffith of the state Transportation Commission, who is in charge of this pilot project, has no idea how to capture revenue from drivers such as tourists, visitors and commercial truckers and vehicles from out of state, so they would be using our roads free of charge. Thus the residents would be subsidizing out-of-state drivers’ share of this tax.

Secondly, if you don’t have a GPS-enabled vehicle, you would also have to pay for any out-of-state miles that you accrued. So if you took a round trip across the country, say 6,000 miles round trip, you would be charged an additional $144, in addition to having paid gas taxes in other states that you drove through. Then someone would have to verify your mileage each year, which would require additional people to do so there would probably be a charge for this inspection.

As to whether this tax would replace the current gas tax, I’ll bet it will be an add-on tax.

Furthermore, Griffith stated that people with gas-saving vehicles, which are traditionally compact or sub-compact cars, are not paying their fair share of gas taxes because they don’t use as much fuel. She stated she has a Mercedes that gets 18 miles to the gallon so that she would save money with this new program. I pointed out to her that her Mercedes creates more pollution by virtue of the extra gas she uses and that her car is much heavier that a compact or sub-compact car thus she creates more wear and tear on the roadways.

This is in my opinion a big problem because bigger vehicles use more gas and create more wear, thus paying per mile does not fairly assess for usage if one considers the additional wear and pollution created by these vehicles. Also, for people commuting from rural areas in gas saving vehicles, it will more expensive to get to work.

So in essence, pay-by-mile would punish those who are saving gas, creating less wear on the roads, and by extension, polluting less.

The privacy issue is very troubling as well as the state will be able to track where your GPS enabled vehicles have been. The current issue of electric and hybrid vehicles not paying their fair share of road use taxes could be solved with a standard yearly fee to compensate for their usage of the roads. In my opinion, the logistics of this pilot project have not been well thought out before it was undertaken and I hope it will be shelved permanently or until these concerns are addressed and a fair way to accurately capture revenue from all users of the roadways is determined.

The privacy issue is very troubling as well, as the state will be able to track where your GPS-enabled vehicles have been. The current issue of electric and hybrid vehicles not paying their fair share of road-use taxes could be solved with a standard yearly fee to compensate for their usage of the roads. The logistics of this pilot project have not been well thought out, and I hope it will be shelved permanently or until these concerns are addressed and a fair way to accurately capture revenue from all users of the roadways is determined.

Joan Deigert

Arlington

Correction: The letter above has been edited to correct errors made in editing the letter for length.

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