San Francisco Bay Area will consider plan to tax drivers for every mile

McClatchy Tribune News Service – excerpt

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Imagine being taxed a dollar for driving to the store. Commute to work? That’ll be a few bucks more.

Is it crazy or the way of the future? The San Francisco Bay Area (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) is considering a long-range plan to become the first place in the nation to tax drivers for every mile they travel, with an average bill of up to $1,300 per year.

The proposal is a long way from becoming reality. But under the scenario, drivers would likely have to install GPS-like trackers on their cars to tally travel in the nine-county Bay Area, from freeways to neighborhood streets, with only low-income people exempted.

Transportation planners know they would have a tough time selling such a radical plan but argue the goal of the so-called VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax is to reduce traffic and pollution while raising revenue needed to fill potholes and bolster public transit service…

“I don’t want to say it’s pie in the sky. A VMT charge is really an option for the future to be looked at and considered,” said Randy Rentschler, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the agency leading the effort…

County supervisors and city council members around the Bay Area, on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area governments, are set Thursday to authorize a study of the proposal (who is paying for this study?), though they haven’t yet weighed in on the actual merits of a VMT tax. If approved, officials would likely need the OK from voters and the state Legislature…

The court of public opinion, however, has often swiftly killed ideas to charge drivers more. In 2010, San Francisco supervisors quickly scrapped an idea to charge drivers a $6 fee to enter the city from the south after outrage over the plan spread like wildfire. Ideas to raise the gas tax by even miniscule amounts have failed time and again…

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Who is paying for the study and who is being paid to conduct it? Now we now why we need a 2/3′s majority to raise state taxes.