Sunday, September 2, 2012

Paving our future - Enjoy the free ride....for now.

$3.77.  That's how much I paid per gallon the last time I ever filled up my Prius.  Out of that, 23.5 cents went to the state of Massachusetts and 18.4 cents went to the Federal Highway Trust Fund.  Do the 15,000 miles per year, 45 miles per gallon, $.42 cents tax... I was sending $140 per year to various government agencies.  Without getting too political, I have to assume that some of this money is earmarked for paving roads, repairing bridges and other projects that keep me and others safe on the roadways.

As of March, 2012, I am still driving about 15,000 miles per year on the same roads (and having way more fun in my ActiveE!), however, I am not contributing to their upkeep.  Is that fairWhat if we all started driving electric cars or high mpg hybrids?

Oregon and Minnesota are two states leading the charge to find alternative ways to fund their transportation infrastructure.  Oregon began research on this topic in the early 2000s. They experimented with various ways to collect usage fees through a VMT (Vehicle Mileage Tax). They ran a pilot program, made mistakes and admitted it!  Now, version 2.0 begins this fall with the Road User Charge Pilot Program.  Minnesota is actively recruiting volunteers for their Mileage-Based User Fee with the same goal: be ready to replace shrinking road maintenance revenues when the country goes electric.

For now, I'm enjoying the free ride, but urging my Massachusetts state representatives to look into the future of road maintenance funding.