Washington State to Test Pay-By-Mile Pilot Tax Program to Replace Gas Tax
They’ve already kicked off a test program in Oregon, now it’s creeping North.
This is just approval for a test program, it doesn’t mean it’s going into effect. But for many motorists, just the thought that state officials are considering charging motorists by the mile “instead” of another gas tax sends chills down their spine.
Spokane TV stations who talked to various drivers who make lengthy commutes anywhere from 24-36 miles to their jobs found most drivers felt they didn’t like the feeling they would be “monitored.”
The Washington State Transportation Commission is expected to sign off on a test pilot program that would determine the feasibility of charging drivers for every mile they drive on public roads. According to NW Cable News:
“A Road Usage Charge would eventually replace the gas tax in Washington State, which has brought in less revenue with more hybrid and electric vehicles using less gas. A GPS device would track miles driven and charge accordingly. Testing would begin next year.
The state legislature will be asked in January to give final approval for the test project. A GPS requirement wouldn’t happen until at least 2017.”
Do you want a GPS monitoring your every turn and trip? We certainly don’t. According to a report prepared by KREM -2 TV in Spokane, it could cost the average motorists around $1.5 cents per mile. While advocates say it’s the best way to gain additional revenue for the state, opponents say the cost would offset the benefits. Proponents of the plan haven’t said how the state would pay for the tens of thousands of GPS units needed to track each licensed vehicle in the state. That cost alone would be staggering.
Based upon KREM TV’s assessment that $1.5 cents per mile would be the average cost, let’s do a little math. Imagine you put about 10,000 miles on your vehicle each year. That’s close to what I average. That includes trips to work, around town, and VERY little out of town travel. Some quick match on the cellphone calculator means it would cost about $150 a year.
Various options are being considered in Washington, Oregon is testing a GPS based system because it can apparently determine what miles are driven in or out of state. If utilized, drivers would receive a gas tax credit for paying by the mile. If your vehicle gets less than 20 miles per gallon at anytime, you “might” save some money because the per-mile rate – as of now – would be less than the gas tax. But officials say the current rates are strictly for testing purposes.
Officials with the Washington State Transportation Commission say gas tax revenues just aren’t a viable source of income anymore, because cars are far more fuel efficient, more hybrids and electrics, and drivers are being far more careful with how they drive.
Motorists are saving far more fuel than ten, even five years ago, and the less gas purchased means less tax revenue. Considering Gov. Inslee and others have been pushing environmentally friendly, high-mileage vehicles, this appears to have put the state in a Catch-22 situation.