Overdrive Magazine

June 2019

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4 | Overdrive | June 2019 V O I C E S Poll results here were collected in the wake of Overdrive Editorial Direc- tor Max Heine's column in the May issue. It detailed moves around the nation to explore the idea of a vehi- cle-miles-traveled tax as a replace- ment for motor fuels taxes that drive highway infrastructure nancing to- day. Part of the picture complicating the notion of replacing the fuels tax is the slow but steady overlay of toll roads on top of the current system, which so many view as tantamount to double taxation. As Heine wrote in that piece, tolling interstates is among "seasoned punching bags" in the trucking/ highways conversation. Yet "some of the old arguments against it are beginning to so en," partly because of continual fuel e ciency improve- ments and the advent of electric vehicles promising to further erode fuels tax-based highway funding. Readers questioned the notion of applying a miles-traveled tax in a consistent and equitable fashion, including whether it truly would replace state or federal fuels taxes. "By 'all highway users,' I guess they really mean all, including cars," noted a reader posting only as Richard un- der the poll at OverdriveOnline.com. Not that the reader was necessarily among the rough third in favor of a VMT tax as a potential alternative to today's fuels tax system. As always, he suspected, "the truck will pay more taxes on that also, as they do now. Any amount of money will never be enough." Reader Don took that further, likening the imposition of a VMT tax to what happens with toll roads to- day: "I think you would get hit twice, because you're still going to pay tax at the pump. ey won't get rid of that. ey will probably increase it." Government mismanagement of funding, others suggested, was likely to continue to plague the system, however it's funded. As Bob West put it, "It's not going to matter how they charge. ey will still mismanage the money." e last time Overdrive polled readers about the appropriateness of allowing toll projects on the Interstate system, two-thirds objected to it cat- egorically, while the vast majority of the rest preferred limiting any tolls to new lanes or new roads entirely. A VMT tax as a replacement for the fuels tax garners wider support, though its o -envisioned method of collection and accounting for miles – widespread in-vehicle telemat- ics – also is viewed by some to have "obvious privacy implications," as noted reader M.J. Nichols. Ditto for any personal electronic device from which information is pulsed and collected, whatever the reason for the harvesting. e predominance of fuel sur- charges also makes it relatively simple to "recover a fuel tax increase," Nich- ols added, given such increases would re ect themselves automatically in carriers' already-in-place surcharge arrangements with customers. A VMT-tax increase might not be so easy to recoup. "You're going to eat the VMT," Nichols suggested. e need for robust maintenance and new capacity, at least, is a given when one considers the state of the highway system today, whatever the funding mechanism. As Congress Readers skeptical about using miles-traveled tax V O I C E S Would a standardized miles- traveled tax for all highway users be a good alternative to today's fuel-tax system? OverdriveOnline.com poll No, fuels tax should remain standard with better accounting for electric/hybrid vehicles Yes 37% I'm not sure 13% 50%

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