Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Unpopular Road Useage Fee Hits Roadblock of Asphalt Socialism

OreGo, the attempt to shift from the gas tax model to a tax on VMT, is not having a very successful pilot.

The Portland Tribune reports that the program
has roughly 900 participants, mostly in the Portland metropolitan area.

Officials had hoped to enroll up to 5,000 people in the pay-by-the-mile program, the first of its kind in the nation. Participants sign up with one of three private vendors, then install an electronic device that enables the company to track mileage and collect fees.
Interestingly, the guy who built out the program is leaving.
[Jim] Whitty has announced he plans to resign from the agency at the end of this year. “I’m an innovator and there comes a point where the program becomes more governmental,” Whitty said. “We’ve reached that point. My services are not as needed at this stage going forward.”
There are lots of moving parts here. Some of the slow adoption could be problems with management at ODOT, but other parts are an understandable discomfort with the potential self-surveillance implied by "installing an electronic device...to track mileage."

But more than anything, people want free car use and free road use. People don't want to pay more gas tax, people don't want to pay for parking, people don't want to consider tolls or congestion pricing, people don't to "divert" money to support transit, and people aren't interested really in any alternative to the gas tax.

OreGo task force agenda
The Road User Fee Task Force, chaired by our own former Rep. Vicki Berger, meets tomorrow, and it will be interesting to see how they go forward in the face of what so far has been a disappointing pilot project.

More Bridges and Highways for Endless Prosperity
International Institute of Social History Collection
Over at The American Conservative, Portlander Joe Cortright has a note on our prevailing commitment to "asphalt socialism," and reminds us that road use is an excellent candidate for some free market discipline.
And another note today on Adam Smith and free markets.

1 comment:

Doug's Transportation Ramblings said...

Certainly we need to shift to a road usage fee. The current gas tax covers a small portion of total road costs and, as motor vehicles become more efficient and use alternate fuels, that portion will continue to slide. Perhaps the current program was necessary to initiate implementation of a complex accounting system. (Collecting the gas tax from energy suppliers is remarkably efficient as compared to collecting road user fees from individuals.) However, it is a subsidy for owners of vehicles.getting less than 20 mpg and, for the rest of us, a tax on the mathematically impaired.