Officials Consider New Tax on Drivers

It could be an expensive road ahead for Bay Area drivers—literally.

Transportation planners are throwing around the idea to make the Bay Area the first place in the country to tax drivers for every mile they travel, with an average bill of up to $1,300 per year. The scheme would require installing GPS-like trackers on everyone’s car to keep track of how far they travel, which sounds a little fishy on its own.

It’s called the VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax, and its goal, obviously, is to reduce vehicle pollution and raise revenue to fill potholes and increase public transit service. The idea is kind of a dream right now, but it’s definitely being considered and could take a decade to implement—assuming the public will support it.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments, which consist of county supervisors and city council members from around the Bay Area, are prepared to authorize a study of the proposal Thursday, the Mercury News reports. Officials have yet to comment on the pros and cons of having a VMT tax.

This type of tax, which could raise up to $15 million a day, has been tested in small pilot programs in communities in Oregon, Washington state and Atlanta.

10 Comments

  1. Like a snowball in Hell, this proposal by greedy, slimy politicians has no chance of becoming reality in ten years or 100 years!

  2. > The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments, which consist of county supervisors and city council members from around the Bay Area, are prepared to authorize a study of the proposal Thursday, the Mercury News reports. Officials have yet to comment on the pros and cons of having a VMT tax.

    Names, please.

    We need to know the names of the weasels on the MTC and ABAG so they can benefit from some kick-in-the butt “values clarification” from the public.

    These people seem to be way, way too isolated and detached from common sense and public input.

  3. Why don’t they just tax gasoline by a 10 cents a gallon… wouldn’t that do it?  Easier and cheaper than installing meters on people’s cars.

    • I thought the same thing.  Why would would anyone believe the public would favor a VMT tax over a hike in the gas tax?  A higher gas tax would have a high correlation with everything they claim to want to achieve.

      Normally high mileage vehicles are lighter and easier on the roads too.  So in addition to getting people to drive less, you’d drive (pun intended) people towards vehicles that would be kinder to the roadways.

      I will definitely never vote for anyone dumb or dishonest enough to vote for such a tax.

      • The arguement against that is transportation planners beleive that in a decade or so we will all be driving electric vehicles

  4. @thecount,

    Whenever you have something as convoluted as a VMT tax, it’s likely to be a scheme to work around something.  I’m guessing that a VMT tax would be considered a use fee.  That would mean that it wouldn’t have to be approved by voters like an increase in the gas tax would.

    Of course they might obfuscate their real intent by predicting that everyone will be driving electric cars in another decade.

    • > Whenever you have something as convoluted as a VMT tax, it’s likely to be a scheme to work around something.

      I believe you have hit the nail squarely on the head.

      It’s time to give the political lizards an ultimatum:

      kill this sucker by sundown and put a stake through it’s heart, or get the hell out of Dodge.

      If any politician fills the need to “study” the VMT and is not yet sure that they’re ready to leave Dodge, we can arrange some transportation assistance.

  5. Another example of political ruling elites attempting to enhance their purse with the privatization of public goods through exhorbitant user fees (which is a really regressive tax that hurts the working poor far more than the wealthy elites.)

    They’ve done it with parks, city pools, and now are working on toll roads and driver taxes.  We paid for and built all this infrastructure, and tax revenue is supposed to be used to maintain it (gas taxes, etc.)  But they’ve over spent and under-invested in maintenance and diverted ever increasing sums to “prestige” projects that benefit egos and a small number of people while screwing the masses who are left with poorly maintained roads, parks and other infrastructure.

    MTC and the brain trust here are clearly coming out of left field.  I more sensible proposal would be an indexed gas tax charged at all the gas stations in the MTC counties.  A few cents per gallon would create a dedicated revenue stream that could be allocated to improving our transportation system.

    You just have to specify how that dedicated revenue stream must be spent (road maintenance, transit, etc by percentage) or it will all be diverted like previous cash streams.  (New HQ bldg anyone?)