Penny per mile odometer tax

HenryAlan

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I have to disagree with migrating from a gas tax to a per mile tax, at least at this point. We should encourage the development of electric, fuel efficient, and hybrid cars. A gas tax does this, but not a per mile tax.

Of course in the future that will change once electric cars hit critical mass, but at this point they haven't. In 10 years the picture will be different and a per mile rate makes sense.
I agree that we may still want to incentivize electric car utilization. But electric cars are still a net negative to both the environment and urban infrastructure. Perhaps the blended option suggested above by @fattony would be sufficient for continuing to promote electric vehicles while nevertheless recouping some of the costs they place on our roads and cities.
 

Arlington

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That's why in other threads I have argued against a congestion tax unless it is linked with rationing of access to the congestion zone. Otherwise you just get 110% usage and a government getting perversely rewarded for bad planning.
But understanding that taxes are prices and disincentives for using the CZ (central/core/CBD), there's no way you'd get 110% of current usage.

And understanding that congestion is usually the last 5% to 10% of usage*, it is hard to imagine any CZ charge resulting in increased congestion/usage. The most likely scenario is removing the 5% or 10% and things actually decongesting.

*the straws that break the camels back--the traffic that we *don't* see in July & August that results for free-flowing commutes for 6 weeks each summer.
 

Arlington

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Scott

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[That's what you say when you still disagree but have nothing new to offer]
 

BostonUrbEx

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I have to disagree with migrating from a gas tax to a per mile tax, at least at this point. We should encourage the development of electric, fuel efficient, and hybrid cars. A gas tax does this, but not a per mile tax.

Of course in the future that will change once electric cars hit critical mass, but at this point they haven't. In 10 years the picture will be different and a per mile rate makes sense.
At this point, I think the emissions from combustion engines are a drop in the bucket compared to emissions from brake and tire wear, plus chemically treating roads, plus massive plots of asphalt, plus low-density sprawl encroaching on ecosystems, etc, etc. Then there is the safety factor of cars killing, maiming, and creating unhealthy lifestyles for millions of people. Tax mileage now.
 

whighlander

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At this point, I think the emissions from combustion engines are a drop in the bucket compared to emissions from brake and tire wear, plus chemically treating roads, plus massive plots of asphalt, plus low-density sprawl encroaching on ecosystems, etc, etc. Then there is the safety factor of cars killing, maiming, and creating unhealthy lifestyles for millions of people. Tax mileage now.
BostonUrb -- Fascinating coincidence -- your and your counterparts in this discussion couldn't have picked a better time -- and I don't mean closing in on the 75th Anniversary of General Patton coming to the Aid of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne -- although we should all honor that achievement

No -- that what is of such Chronological Import was that a small band of British ruffians disguised [however poorly] as Native Americans tossed a quantity of His Majesty's Tea from His Majesty's ships into His Majesty's Boston Harbor -- and they did it 246 years ago. At that time such an act was near unthinkable. It also led quite directly [as in forced-mate in 19] through the War of American Independence -- the ultimate Brexit -- as in we exit from domination by the Brits

Their major crime of course was dumping Tea in to His Majesty's Boston Harbor without HRH permission to do so -- something about Tannic Acid acidifying the Harbor and rendering it unfit for aquaculture?

Their reason for taking such drastic action -- something about being required to purchase Tea only from purveyors who in turn obtained it from a monopolist [His Royal Highness' s East India Company] and then being charged extra [the tax] for the privilege.

Just an admonishment -- if you want to see Massachusetts Turn Blue -- Propose a tax directly on driving automobiles unless you also put a tax on walking / jogging through fitbit, bicycle wheel rotations, and electric scooter kWhr consumption
 

Arlington

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I think good mobility can attract bipartisan support. Ronald Reagan won on MA in 1984 after a big gas tax hike in 1982:


Potholes can easily destroy a car at higher than a penny a mile rate.

A $120 suspension-alignmen-bearing problem per year (or a $1200 one every 10) is a penny a mile in a 12,000 mile driving year. Good roads are a solid bit of popular middle class welfare (but Reagan-ONeill deal also lockboxed 10% for transit)
 

George_Apley

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BostonUrb -- Fascinating coincidence -- your and your counterparts in this discussion couldn't have picked a better time -- and I don't mean closing in on the 75th Anniversary of General Patton coming to the Aid of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne -- although we should all honor that achievement

No -- that what is of such Chronological Import was that a small band of British ruffians disguised [however poorly] as Native Americans tossed a quantity of His Majesty's Tea from His Majesty's ships into His Majesty's Boston Harbor -- and they did it 246 years ago. At that time such an act was near unthinkable. It also led quite directly [as in forced-mate in 19] through the War of American Independence -- the ultimate Brexit -- as in we exit from domination by the Brits

Their major crime of course was dumping Tea in to His Majesty's Boston Harbor without HRH permission to do so -- something about Tannic Acid acidifying the Harbor and rendering it unfit for aquaculture?

Their reason for taking such drastic action -- something about being required to purchase Tea only from purveyors who in turn obtained it from a monopolist [His Royal Highness' s East India Company] and then being charged extra [the tax] for the privilege.

Just an admonishment -- if you want to see Massachusetts Turn Blue -- Propose a tax directly on driving automobiles unless you also put a tax on walking / jogging through fitbit, bicycle wheel rotations, and electric scooter kWhr consumption
Well, how’s that for a mostly correct telling of history that is yet wildly, hilariously, and smugly applied to a modern policy debate that is only the least bit connected?

If you want to make an anti-tax argument then just make it. You don’t need to take us on a journey through time to do it.
 

tangent

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The tax on tea was going back to England and/or going to pay for red coats and royal governors and judges that were perceived as more burden to the colonials than protectors. Not going towards something the taxpayers wanted or needed.

Taxes are a necessary evil. Sometimes more evil than necessary. In this case I think we just need to come to the least evil way to collect a tax to pay for our roads and bridges. Less evil than tracking people's movements in real time every where they go just to collect a tax. More fair in that it reflects the usage of the roads and somewhat encourages people to reduce their usage in reflection of the limited capacity of the system.

I don't agree that cars are on balance negative for society. At least they won't have to be once we go electric and continue to address any other issues with better technology. Most transportation will continue to happen with cars and trucks outside of the denser downtown areas. There is simply no other viable economical option for transportation in lower density areas where mass transit requires unacceptable delays.

Trying to diminish car use outside of truly congested areas with a "sin" tax will only hurt society. That said I think with the availability of electric cars in the next few years, it makes sense to increase the gas tax to become more coercive and drive adoption more quickly.
 

JeffDowntown

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The tax on tea was going back to England and/or going to pay for red coats and royal governors and judges that were perceived as more burden to the colonials than protectors. Not going towards something the taxpayers wanted or needed.

Taxes are a necessary evil. Sometimes more evil than necessary. In this case I think we just need to come to the least evil way to collect a tax to pay for our roads and bridges. Less evil than tracking people's movements in real time every where they go just to collect a tax. More fair in that it reflects the usage of the roads and somewhat encourages people to reduce their usage in reflection of the limited capacity of the system.

I don't agree that cars are on balance negative for society. At least they won't have to be once we go electric and continue to address any other issues with better technology. Most transportation will continue to happen with cars and trucks outside of the denser downtown areas. There is simply no other viable economical option for transportation in lower density areas where mass transit requires unacceptable delays.

Trying to diminish car use outside of truly congested areas with a "sin" tax will only hurt society. That said I think with the availability of electric cars in the next few years, it makes sense to increase the gas tax to become more coercive and drive adoption more quickly.
I don't know how you achieve congestion reduction goals without tracking movement at some level (minimum practical granularity).

Some roads at certain times of day are clearly more valuable than other roads or at other times of day. Costs (taxes) need to reflect that reality to change behavior.
 

George_Apley

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This question will seem leading, but it's really an honest one. For our more anti-tax, small-government minded folks: often libertarians prefer privatization of public goods as a theoretical good for efficiency, removal of government from services, etc.. Likely, one of the first things a private corporation would do to a congested road network is implement demand pricing. Does the objection to "government tracking and taxation" simply evaporate when they're called "corporate tracking and fees" instead? Tbh, this has long been my roadblock to libertarianism, the seeming inherent distrust of government control, but total lack of concern over corporate control. I've never really gotten an answer that satisfied my cynicism.
 

tangent

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I don't know how you achieve congestion reduction goals without tracking movement at some level (minimum practical granularity).

Some roads at certain times of day are clearly more valuable than other roads or at other times of day. Costs (taxes) need to reflect that reality to change behavior.
I don't oppose congestion pricing in downtown zones. But I think it has to actually be structured in a way to achieve the public good of reducing congestion, not be structured in the usual way that creates a government incentive to create more congestion so they can justify higher prices. And the only way you do that is by being even more restrictive on use than most congestion zone schemes I have seen which simply charge everyone a higher price when the roads get clogged up.

So that people can plan ahead you need to have a congestion zone reservation system that gives a certain number of cars and trucks access to congestion zones at viable prices. Say up to 80% capacity on a 1st come first serve reservation basis. Then the remaining 15% can be same day prices based on real demand. With 5% of theoretical max capacity reserved for emergency vehicles and accidents and other contingency scenarios.

And if you are going to be changing behavior then there has to be an economically viable alternative... outside of downtown there simply isn't. Even with congestion at peak times, mass transit takes twice as long to get anywhere along or outside of rt 128. Which makes sense as the density doesn't justify higher frequency so you end up with lower frequency routes for buses which create transfer delays along with a lot of stops on the routes themselves while still sitting in road traffic.

So a per mile odometer tax is really to help fund the roads as we shift to electric. Keeping in place the existing gas tax (and raising it appropriately as needed). An odometer tax isn't a replacement for a congestion zone tax, but a recognition that congestion zones require a lot more expensive technology overhead, a lot more intrusive police state level surveillance and cultural change.

And yes it does mean more open road tolls at the border because we won't have the infrastructure in place to collect per mile taxes on out of state registered vehicles.
 

whighlander

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Tangent -- there is a significant point in your post -- but its almost lost
And yes it does mean more open road tolls at the border because we won't have the infrastructure in place to collect per mile taxes on out of state registered vehicle
Since Boston is part of a "Virtual City-State" whose outermost boundaries include ME, NH, VT, CT, RI -- there are going to be a lot of regular users of our highways and core roads who are not touchable by an odometer tax

Further we get quite a few trucks and a few buses coming into the Boston Area whose "home-port" is in Canada

I'm not a big fan of government surveillance -- yet RFID Transponders which are only interrogated by overhead gantries at definite locations on highways relatively a minor intrusion.
Far more intrusive are electronics in a box which keep an archive of everywhere you've gone during last year and which is downloaded when you have your car inspected
and of course there is already the capability of the government monitoring your location via your cellphone "heartbeat"

At some point we [as in the citizens of the free world] need to have a searching discussion of surveillance by the private sector and the government. Of particular concern is the use of the private sector's ability to collect data [e.g. Verizon -- can you hear me, corporate surveillance cameras, Ring, etc.] which can then be co-opted by the Government for its own purposes [whether official or "unofficial"]
 

shmessy

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Well, how’s that for a mostly correct telling of history that is yet wildly, hilariously, and smugly applied to a modern policy debate that is only the least bit connected?

If you want to make an anti-tax argument then just make it. You don’t need to take us on a journey through time to do it.
Gee, George, that'll work. I'm sure he won't do it over and over and over again.........
 

JeffDowntown

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whighlander

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For all of you worried about being tracked by transponders, etc. to manage congestion zones, time-based-tolling, etc., no need to worry about the transponders....

Your cell phone is already providing everyone all the data about your location you would never want to share.

See: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/12/19/opinion/location-tracking-cell-phone.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage[/url
Jeff -- of Course -- but you can put the phone inside an Aluminum Foil Bag, pull the Sim Card -- to keep it from talking [heartbeat connection] with the Cell Phone Towers in your Network
and if you are concerned that the phone is using its motion sensing [microaccelerormeter] to track your comings and goings even when its not talking to a cellphone tower -- you can always remove the battery

But you can't do that with the EasyPass Transponder if you want to use the Turnpike without your license plate being photographed and a bill being sent to your home address

The key is that through an initiative petition or just getting someone to sponsor a bill -- the citizenry has the potential to require the DOT to dispose of the data collected from open road tolling after some interval such as 90 days. The Cellphone data unfortunately is always available to the government with a court order.

This process of the government needing a warrant to spy on you used to offer at least some "fig leaf" of protection -- However -- Not anymore as we now know
 

JeffDowntown

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Jeff -- of Course -- but you can put the phone inside an Aluminum Foil Bag, pull the Sim Card -- to keep it from talking [heartbeat connection] with the Cell Phone Towers in your Network
and if you are concerned that the phone is using its motion sensing [microaccelerormeter] to track your comings and goings even when its not talking to a cellphone tower -- you can always remove the battery

But you can't do that with the EasyPass Transponder if you want to use the Turnpike without your license plate being photographed and a bill being sent to your home address

The key is that through an initiative petition or just getting someone to sponsor a bill -- the citizenry has the potential to require the DOT to dispose of the data collected from open road tolling after some interval such as 90 days. The Cellphone data unfortunately is always available to the government with a court order.

This process of the government needing a warrant to spy on you used to offer at least some "fig leaf" of protection -- However -- Not anymore as we now know
Right, but only the tin foil hat crowd are placing their cell phones in aluminum foil bags or pulling their sim cards and batteries.

The reality is most of the people "concerned" about EasyPass Transponder data are willingly giving up much more data via their cell phone (not just driving locations, but walking locations, final destinations, dwell times there, etc. -- read the article!). And while they "worry" about the big bad transponder, they continue using their phone, navigating with Google Maps, playing Spotify over their car audio, checking a Yelp review, and probably texting. And big, nearly invisible private corporations are collecting all their location data (and ancillary phone use practices) to sell to the highest bidder. It is not even the government you need to worry about, it is the corporate oligarchy.
 

tangent

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Tangent -- there is a significant point in your post -- but its almost lost


Since Boston is part of a "Virtual City-State" whose outermost boundaries include ME, NH, VT, CT, RI -- there are going to be a lot of regular users of our highways and core roads who are not touchable by an odometer tax

Further we get quite a few trucks and a few buses coming into the Boston Area whose "home-port" is in Canada

I'm not a big fan of government surveillance -- yet RFID Transponders which are only interrogated by overhead gantries at definite locations on highways relatively a minor intrusion.
Far more intrusive are electronics in a box which keep an archive of everywhere you've gone during last year and which is downloaded when you have your car inspected
and of course there is already the capability of the government monitoring your location via your cellphone "heartbeat"

At some point we [as in the citizens of the free world] need to have a searching discussion of surveillance by the private sector and the government. Of particular concern is the use of the private sector's ability to collect data [e.g. Verizon -- can you hear me, corporate surveillance cameras, Ring, etc.] which can then be co-opted by the Government for its own purposes [whether official or "unofficial"]
Just wondering why you would think I would be proposing that the odometer tax should also track location history via gps? That is what I am proposing we avoid. No, just current odometer reading minus previous odometer reading times a 0.01 cents (or whatever is needed). All the infrastructure is in place for that already.

I think there would have to be multiple ways people who live and work or travel out of state would or could pay or receive some offset. The gantries at the border are just one possibility, but a lot less intrusive than gantries and cameras all over the state reading license plates or transponders and keeping a complete history of all your travel within the state for 2 or 3 years (or indefinitely)
 

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