California SB 1077 (Chapter 835, 9/29/14) calls for creation of a Road Usage Charge (RUC) Technical Advisory Committee by the Chair of the CA Transportation Commission. This 15-member committee is to study alternatives to the gas tax and make recommendations to the Transportation Agency for a pilot program to begin by the start of 2017. The preamble to the legislation notes that existing revenues “for highways and local roads are inadequate to preserve and maintain existing infrastructure and to provide funds for improvements that would reduce congestion and improve service.” It also describes the gas tax as “an effective mechanism” for long-term infrastructure needs due to a few factors including use of more fuel efficient cars. It is estimated that by 2030, fuel efficiency will decrease otherwise available gas tax revenues by half. The bill also notes that Oregon has already studied this issue. Any proposal is to consider privacy implications. The work of the committee and items it must consider are detailed in the legislation.
The Senate Floor Analysis (8/26/14) of SB 1077 describes a “trifecta of circumstances” warranting this study:
I think it makes sense to change the gasoline excise tax to tie to miles driven rather than gallons purchased. For example, why should someone with a hybrid or electric car, not have to pay for road maintenance and expansion? Technology should enable the necessary data to be collected while still protecting privacy. Also, when Oregon started its study back in 2001, I think there was a greater interest in privacy than exists today. For example, many people already have readers in their cars for toll booths. Also, lots of people post all kinds of private photos and information (including their location) on the web.
The California study sounds like it will explore more than a VMT.
What do you think?