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Cars and buses share the road along Stockton Street on March 26, 2012 in San Francisco, California. A Treasury Department report finds that Americans are wasting close to 1.9 billion gallons of gasoline each year sitting in traffic on congested roads. On the average, drivers are paying around $4 per gallon for gasoline.
Last week, San Francisco transportation officials inched one step closer to taxing drivers for every mile they log in the region. Officials approved a long-range study of the benefits of a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax, and are advocating for the tax to be imposed.
VMT taxes have been floated on small and large scales in the past. Pilot studies have been conducted throughout the U.S. The idea is to deter people from driving long distances, reducing traffic and pollution. The money raised goes to mass transit and infrastructure revenue.
As recently as last year, Washington’s Congressional Budget Office released a report supporting a VMT tax. It suggested installing electronic equipment on each car to track mileage, and payments being made at gas stations. One criticism decries that hybrids and hummers would be taxed at the same rate.
How does a VMT tax compare to the original intent of the gas tax? Would it affect how much you drive, where you live and where you work?
Randy Rentschler, Legislation & Publics Affairs Director, Metropolitan Transportation Commission; MTC is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.
Darrin Roth, director of highway operations, American Trucking Association