Tags: gas tax | highway tolls | mass transit | ev | privacy

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach: The Pay-Per-Mile Toll Road Scandal

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach: The Pay-Per-Mile Toll Road Scandal
The Robert F. Kennery toll plaza in New York (Dreamstime)

Lauren Fix By Friday, 10 February 2023 11:34 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

More toll roads are coming to your state. Be prepared as states begin to convert more highways, roads and streets into toll lanes. You will have to pay for every mile driven. Governments are trying to tax us in to submission to take mass transit. Who does this really hurt? Service workers, landscapers, plumbers and many others.

How did we get here? The states and federal government starting taxing each gallon of gas drivers have pumped in the United States since 1932. The revenue is supposed to be used for road repairs and public transportation such as train and bus systems.

Currently, the Fed takes 18.4 cents per gallon for gas and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. State gas taxes range from a national high of 61 cents for gas in Pennsylvania, to a low of 8.95 cents in Alaska.

But environmentally motivated improvements in fuel efficiency and the move to electric vehicles (EVs) translate to less gas sold, resulting less tax revenue collected.

State and federal governments are looking for a new ways to fund transportation and infrastructure to make the roads safe. Mileage-based user fees; vehicle miles traveled fees; road user charges, or highway use fees mean drivers will soon pay a tax for each mile traveled.

Washington, D.C., and states on board to charge these taxes, or fees, include: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. Oregon, Utah, and Virginia have already implemented pilot programs.

At least 31 states have laws requiring a special registration fee for plug-in electric vehicles and 18 states also assess a fee on plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The fee for EV’s and gas-powered vehicles will all vary from state to state.

In 2022, Virginia offered a pilot program, Mileage Choice Program, giving drivers paying the highway-use fee the option to pay on a per-mile basis. They save money if they drive less than 11,600 miles, the average driven per year by all Virginians. Miles are recorded by a device installed on a person's car and connected to a smartphone. Programs in Oregon and Utah are similar.

Does this add up? Those who drive high-efficiency gas vehicles often pay twice: both at the gas pump and with the highway-usage Fees.

In Utah, all plug-in hybrid and gas hybrid vehicles must pay the Road Usage Charge, ranging from $21.75-$56.50. EV owners who don't buy gas pay $30.25 a year.

In Oregon, the vehicle registration fee is based on fuel efficiency. The better the miles per gallon, the higher the cost of registration. Drivers with high-efficiency vehicles can enroll in OreGO and get a registration discount. OreGO participants pay 1.9 cents for each mile driven, and the money goes to the state highway fund.

A device on the vehicle tracks miles driven, and drivers of fuel-powered vehicles can receive a credit for fuel tax and remote emissions testing.

With that theory does it make sense to buy a fuel efficient car? You will have to do the math on that one.

Drivers are not happy, and the public is resisting. Studies recognize that drivers are concerned about privacy with adding an open device that tracks their miles, adding another new tax. As well, they are concerned about overpaying.

The privacy concerns is still an unsolved issue. Installing a device into you OBD (on-board diagnostics), creates an open network for others to access your information and your vehicle. DOTs must collect mileage data from each vehicle, for each type of road that vehicle travels on, but would still require to do so in a manner that protects the privacy of drivers. Having a device like an E-Z Pass could work but drivers could remove or block it.

Developers expect a third party, not the government, will keep track of where drivers go, and how much they owe, and some studies have indicated that because a third party is doing the tracking, the data is safe from government eyes, but this information could be sold or used for other uses. The data would go to a government contractor that would deduct the amount owed from a user's credit card and pay it to the states where the vehicle had been.

The federal government collects 18.4 cent-per-gallon in federal gas tax that has not increased since 1993. Because of inflation, the revenue has about one-third less purchasing power than it did when the tax was last increased, according to a January 2022 report from the federal Government Accountability Office.

In that report, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the increasing gap between projected fuel tax revenues and federal highway spending will require $191 billion in additional funding in order to maintain current spending levels, for fiscal years 2022 through 2031.

In November 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allowed for the transfer of $118 billion in general revenue to the Highway Trust Fund, which will cover the estimated revenue shortfalls through at least 2026. While this funding will cover a portion of the estimated shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund, this transfer represents a one-time infusion of funding and is not a sustainable long-term source of revenues. This means drivers will pay to fill the federal and state fund with lots of extra taxes and fees. As costs increase so will these taxes and fees.

There has to be another way to fund this infrastructure. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation established the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives program to provide grants to states to explore the feasibility of user-based alternative funding mechanisms. That is what funded numerous studies across the country.

"The Federal Highway Administration is working diligently in response to Congress's directive that we implement programs to better understand the full range of factors involved in implementing a mileage-based user fee, including public acceptance and administrative feasibility," a spokesperson for the Federal Highway Administration told The Epoch Times.

It’s important to note that many of the state and federal funds are being used to add a charging infrastructure for electric cars. There are also private companies investing in charging networks. However, everyone is footing the bill and this has made some drivers aggravated.

There is so much more to discuss on this, put your comments below and let’s start the conversation.

You can support me by buying me a cup of coffee - the link is in the description. Thank you! https://www.buymeacoffee.com/laurenfix

We will be reviewing all of the newest cars on our YouTube channel Car Coach Reports.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/wo4DuNbyPNw

Additional articles on our website https://www.CarCoachReports.com

"LAUREN FIX'S GUIDE TO LOVING YOUR CAR” Book - https://amzn.to/3ifDi3j

Total Car Score Podcast ► Hosts: Lauren Fix, Karl Brauer and Javier Mota. https://www.revolverpodcasts.com/shows/total-car-score/

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and safety issues for both the auto industry and consumers. Her analysis is honest and straightforward.

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More toll roads are coming to your state. Be prepared as states begin to convert more highways, roads and streets into toll lanes. You will have to pay for every mile driven. Governments are trying to tax us in to submission to take mass transit.
gas tax, highway tolls, mass transit, ev, privacy
Friday, 10 February 2023 11:34 AM
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