The Washington State Transportation Department will test a “per-mile road use fee” starting early next year. According to a September 11 email from Opportunity Washington:
Would you replace the gas tax with a pay-per-mile fee? Saying fuel efficiency and electric cars are making the gas tax an unproductive revenue source for highway maintenance and construction, the state transportation department will soon be pilot testing an alternative, sometimes called a road-usage charge.
So, let me get this straight. The usual suspects carp about reducing fossil fuel consumption, boosting energy efficiency and driving more fuel efficient vehicles. So people do. Then we find out that said fuel efficient vehicles aren’t generating enough revenue via the gas tax to fund road maintenance and construction.
The email continues:
In the pilot test beginning early next year, drivers will pay a mock fee – no real money yet – of 2.4 cents per mile. WSDOT officials say that’s roughly the equivalent of what the driver of a car with average fuel efficiency would pay in gas taxes.
I’m kind of wondering just how, exactly, will the state monitor how many miles you drive? Imagine the impact on residents of rural areas, where you can drive for miles and still be on the edge of nowhere.
Not to fret. “Washington’s not alone,” chirps the email. “Other states, including California and Oregon, are testing public opinion.”
Great. The Californization/Oregonizing of Washington.
What could possibly go wrong?